Robert Fabricant of frogdesign has a great piece today on Fast Company’s Co.Design blog. Writing about the current state of American design, Robert ends with a call to action that I agree with wholeheartly–in fact, I think it’s really resonant with what’s been going on in the Balanced Team, Lean Startup, Lean UX worlds. (And yes, very reflective of the work we’re doing at LUXr. )
Startups are embracing a lean, agile model not just in Silicon Valley, but in Nairobi, Cairo, and Cambodia with small teams working through the design and development of new products and services in real time. Even companies like SAP are adopting agile models that allow them to launch new products in less than 90 days. This is a very exciting period in which product ideas can be developed and launched at warp speed. Small teams are able to engage end users in unprecedented ways as they launch and adapt new services with their user communities in real time.
This wave of “agile innovation” poses a new set of challenges for designers, as many of the tools of design are already in the hands of entrepreneurs and engineers. Designers can’t wait to be “hired” to enhance or improve these offerings. We must be active participants at their inception. If designers are truly skilled at identifying unmet human needs and creating the breakthrough products to address those needs, then, increasingly we will need to prove our value as entrepreneurs. American designers can and should lead the way in showing how you adapt the design process to rapid, real-time product development. And lead the way in demonstrating what can be achieved by designers as entrepreneurs in our own right. Ten years from now I hope to see designers able to attract VC capital at the same rate as MBAs and software engineers. That is the next big mission for American Design.