On Design in Business

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I was talking to a friend earlier today about how design thinking, and designers in general, are so incredibly critical to addressing the dynamic needs of consumers in a market where we’re getting increasingly inundated with products, not all of which solve new problems. As the iPad has proved – well, is proving – and as I’ve mentioned before, there isn’t necessarily a convergence where a panacea product emerges to solve all of our fire hose problems at once. There may not even be a suite of products. But there will be a few big winners, and the rest of the businesses in media, entertainment, and networking will be very lightweight, solving simple problems unobtrusively, and that clearly will require the birth of a design revolution on the internet. But I’ve got my concerns.

Bessemer Venture Partners has a “Designer-in-Residence”. IDEO is the talk of the town lately in terms of approaching problem solving in business. MIT Media Lab and Stanford d.school are teeming with venture capitalists, waiting to see the products that come out of their work.

But through all of this, and I’m only speaking from my experience and access, both of which are limited, where are the entrepreneurs? Where are the designers’ businesses? It seems to me like our designers are stuck in a pattern of talking about ideas, and then building for others, and then talking about ideas, and then building others, ad infinitum. Where’s the building for themselves component? A designer at the executive helm might make some inspired, creative decisions. Why isn’t that happening?

Exception: Inspiring entrepreneurs like my good friend Emily Pilloton are Executing. And kicking ass. She’s not doing it on the internet, though. Where are the web design entrepreneurs? Would the Tumblr guys qualify?

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