The departure of Steve Jobs from Apple signals the end of an era for the company and American business in general. As discussed in Steve Lohr’s piece, “Steve Jobs and the Rewards of Risk Taking”, in the New York Times last week, it is his legacy of championing innovation that will be most remembered, not the products he and Apple created together.
There is no group of professionals in a better position to inherit the mantle of innovation than designers practicing in corporations today. Lohr refers to the five traits that almost all innovators possess and each and every one of them is common to all designers; they are actually inherently a part of the design process and are actively developed and encouraged by design schools and the design community.
The attributes include: questioning, experimenting, observing, associating and networking. Sound familiar? They may to you but are probably quite foreign to the majority of individuals working in corporations today. And there is where the opportunity lies. In-house designers are in the unique position to infuse their companies with this innovative ethic by being more bold and open about the practice of design and design thinking. It mat be risky, but any purpose worth pursuing usually is. It means adopting a sixth and critical trait in addition to the first five – courage. Courage to speak up and advocate for the process of design and and those who practice it.