Chapter V -- Conclusion

It has been established that design, in its many forms, is central to business and is a necessary tool for achieving business goals. Clipson (1990b) states "Designing is seen to be the key agent by which ideas and invention are translated into effective products and communications. In reality, this is hardly appreciated in many businesses today" (p. 141). Thus, if managers were more design-oriented, or designers were more marketing-oriented, design would be used more effectively, for the benefit of business, business people and designers, and ultimately and most importantly, for the consumer. Communication is about an exchange of ideas. If the design management curriculum is limited to one or the other (business or design) disciplines, then there will never be the basic understanding necessary for business to reap the full benefits of design.

Higher education is in a position to address this situation by exposing students to various complementary professions with which they will interact later in their careers. At the present time, as demonstrated in this study, it appears that neither business education nor design education is aggressively pursuing this goal, although there is some evidence that schools in this study may be headed in that direction - most notably Stanford and the Institute of Design at IIT.

The design schools in this study are starting to take the initiative in design management education. Perhaps it is because design, as a profession, has the most to gain by raising the status of the design management field. As was mentioned earlier, this may be attributed to the fact that design would not exist as an industry without business, but business has operated effectively in the past without relying heavily upon design.

However, business, as indicated in this study, also has much to gain by effectively utilizing "total" design, but it is just beginning to pay attention, as evidenced by the recent successes of the Ford Motor Company described in Chapter II.

This study demonstrates a need to develop a design management curriculum in both design schools and in business schools. The limited amount of activity in this educational area is evident from the results of this study. There is little mention of design in business course descriptions. Some business courses briefly introduce students to specific areas of design, but there is little evidence of teaching the comprehensive uses of total design.

On the other side of the coin, design schools need to do more to familiarize design students with business and marketing. Offering marketing or marketing-related courses as electives pays only lip service to the idea of design management, especially in light of the general anti-business attitude that pervades design schools. Not every design student will want to be a manager, nor will every business student want to work with design, but it is important that every student in each of these areas have a sense of the character and the importance of the other discipline. This is especially important for the design field.

The word "design" connotes commercial activity. Without the commerce, design is simply art. Not that art is without value, but the fundamental difference between art and design lies in facilitating a mutually beneficial exchange between parties.

David Ogilvy (1992), a prominent figure in the advertising industry and founder of the international Ogilvy & Mather Advertising agency, comments on a relationship similar to that of art and commerce, namely the relationship between creativity and sales
in advertising:

"My slogan is we sell. Or Else. If I could persuade the creative lunatics to give up their pursuit of awards, I would die happy. In a survey Ogilvy & Mather recently conducted in several countries, we asked manufacturers what function they want their advertising to perform. The large majority told us that they want us to increase their sales.

"If you spend your advertising budget entertaining the consumer, you are a bloody fool. Housewives don't buy a new detergent because the manufacturer told a joke on television last night They buy it because it promised a benefit.

When I write an ad, I don't want you to tell me you find it "creative." I want you to find it so persuasive that you likely buy the product -- or likely buy it more often." (p. 2)

Business will continue to slight the capabilities of design as a marketing tool until designers can demonstrate the power of design. This requires knowledge of the language, methods and processes of marketing, and the ideal place to acquire the foundations of this knowledge is in school. As for designers, if they wish to be involved in the "role of helping businesses to strategically position themselves for the future" (Coyne, 1992, p. 18), then it is absolutely necessary that they make the effort to gain understanding and appreciation for the role that business plays in design.

Two articles provide insight to the direction design management must take to establish its professional value, and they appear to be especially pertinent in light of the results of this study. The first article is Peter Gorb's (1976) "Opening shots in the Design Management Campaign." Sixteen years ago Gorb listed requirements for design management to be accepted as an academic discipline:

  1. Using quantitative skills, work is needed in the development of new planning-models involving the quantification of the spheres of influence on the product of appropriate and predefined management functions.
  2. Using mainly design skills, work is needed to develop matrices of the same management functions as a skeleton of the product plan.
  3. Work is needed, in the behavioral sciences, to assess the cultural time lag in influencing product development and the conflicting cultural resources which modify that development
  4. An assessment is needed of the weight given to creativity and related values in management decision-making about products. (Gorb, 1976, p. 41)

Finally, Gorb (1976) concludes, "the proof of the research pudding will be in publication" (p. 41). Design management, if it is to succeed as an accepted area of management, must produce research that validates its existence to those outside of design. To this point, design has largely been "preaching to the choir." As with the marketing concept, which was introduced about 30 years ago in Levitt's "Marketing Myopia," and which many companies have yet to adopt, neither has design education listened to its innovators and developed a design management curriculum.

The second article is Leonard Silk's ''What America Needs is a New, Improved MBA." (1989). In this article, Silk recounts that he was hired at one time by the Committee for Economic Development to synthesize and review the findings of the Ford and Carnegie reports (the two reports that were the catalysts for the dramatic overhaul of the business curriculum in the U.S. in the late 1950s), and at the time he noted four generally accepted criteria for defining a profession:

1. That it rest upon a systematic body of knowledge and on the develop­ment of personal skills in the application of that knowledge to specific cases.
2. That it set up standards of professional conduct that take precedence over the goal of personal gain.
3. That it have an association of members whose functions include the enforcement of professional standards and the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.
4. And that it prescribe ways, controlled in some degree by the members of the professional association, of entering the profession by meeting certain minimum standards of training and competence. (p. 10)

Some feel that business schools have proceeded too far in pursuit of these goals.

Stanford business school professor Harold L. Leavitt says, "We have built a weird, almost unimaginable design for MBA-level education. We then lay it upon well-proportioned young men and women, distorting them (when we are unlucky enough to succeed) into critters with lopsided brains, icy hearts, and shrunken souls. (Silk, 1989, p. 9)

Although business schools are being harshly criticized today by even their own leaders for adhering too closely to the above guidelines, the state of business education at the time these reports were issued was characterized by low academic standards, low admission requirements, and low-caliber students (Silk, 1989, p. 9). Adherence to the above four criteria has helped to transform business into a respectable, and respected, discipline. And although business may have gone too far in pursuing these criteria (as judged by its critics), the design field could use a push in this direction. In this same article, Silk quotes Professor Abraham Zaleznik of the Harvard Business School as saying, "Business is an art, and it is based on a person's gifts and talents. Fortunately, people have different qualities, and once they discover these talents, they should do their best to bring them to bear at work. This has been the problem with business schools - including my own. They don't understand that business is a talent." (Silk, 1989, p. 9)

Design as a discipline has the advantage of already realizing that it is a talent-
based field - an art. It shouldn't have to worry about going overboard in pursuit of "professional" status to the extent that has caused problems for business schools.
For the future, by developing the "academic" side of the design discipline, it then becomes possible for designers and marketers to share a common culture as an alternative to the traditional divide (Callaway, 1990). Design schools that are part of larger liberal-­arts institutions may have an advantage in this area in the future because of their long­standing academic and research traditions.

A call has been made for design schools to standardize their curricula and establish standards for accreditation (de Forest, 1989; Wefler & Associates, No. 27). This would need to be accompanied by identifying common management elements within the various design disciplines and defining course areas and requirements. Leaders of design as an academic discipline, as well as practitioners, need to work to develop quantitative design decision models. Some evidence that the field is beginning to pursue these goals is provided by Patrick Whitney, director of the Institute of Design (Kent, 1992) and Larry Keeley (1992), who are both working on developing formal theories, methods, processes and models to solve design problems.

As business education prepares to swing back from its extreme position, design must be prepared to meet it halfway, enabling management students to understand the critical role of design and enabling design students to see the potential role of the designer in corporate strategy. A partnership can be forged for the benefit of everyone.