People talk about two sides of a coin and two sides to every story. In the real world, there are two sides to everything: the good and the bad.
For today’s design consultancies, the good news is that design is more highly valued and in greater demand than ever before. Designers intuitively organize and simplify that which is complex. There is a collective awareness about how design thinking can be used to solve a variety of problems that transcend the look, feel and function of an object. In a rapidly shifting world, clients understand this power, extending our role beyond the design of things to the design of business. More so than ever before, businesses value creativity, agility, tenacity, collaboration and emotional intelligence. In turn, design consultancies have earned a seat at the executive table, allowing us to help identify, define and solve a multitude of systems problems. More and more, design consultancies are asked to be change agents and provide leadership.
On the other hand, we do see some negative trends for design consultancies. Companies that value design continue to bring it in-house, reducing demand for consultancies. As design becomes a more widely used strategy, its power and true meaning has become misunderstood or misrepresented by some. The demand for design has led to large managerial consultants acquiring design firms. Will these acquisitions allow the creativity that is revolutionizing today’s business culture to continue to thrive? Or will it get throttled by the machine? And while systems-thinking projects are intellectually stimulating, as a product designer nothing can replace the first time you hold and use each new product you’ve designed.
More and more, design consultancies are asked to be change agents and provide leadership.
With that said, the future is extremely bright for design consultants. Our true value comes from the people and the culture of creativity fostered within the consulting environment. Our depth of experience and diversity of work leads to deep contextual knowledge of human behavior. We see rapid shifts in the world that call for creative solutions in retail, healthcare, education, government, technology. Design is not only in demand, it is critical to finding the path forward, and design consultancies are best positioned to deliver enduring solutions.