Wow what a year 2009 was? We got hit right in the face by the economic down turn and designers all over the world were falling like flies as companies cut R&D or design budgets in response to a drop in consumer spending.

Image by Rob Warde

While we all tighten our belts and expected the worst, I saw 2009 as a humongous opportunity to position a brand, company and even ourselves, so that we can be well prepared for the recovery and be miles ahead of the competition.

Being a glass half full kind of guy, I was sort of glad that 2009 happened. 2009 got us to sit up and reconsider our spending habits, almost managed to purge the world of dodgy finance, and in a spectacular Darwinian fashion only the fittest company survived. However despite this, I’m glad 2009 is over and am really looking forward to flying start in 2010.

I’m sure you are equally well positioned to leverage on this so called “V” shaped recession/recovery, because you are reading this post or have been following this blog! If you have been walking this learning journey with me you would likely be as ready as I am!

With that, let me share my 5 things I wish for in 2010:

1) Another brand becomes synonymous with design and innovation like Apple

Apple has done a fantastic job since the maestro Steve Jobs retook the helm as CEO. Their design-focused organization reaped the rewards of their effort by turning in a fantastic profit even during a recession.

However, while Apple is the king of the hill in design and innovation, I am keen to see another company, not necessary a competitor, be considered an equal peer to Apple. Dyson or Oakley probably comes close, but considering Apple’s dedicated fan base and universal appeal, they still lack behind.

It’s really not that difficult to build a design focused organization and everyone seems to know what to do. But organizations will still struggle as long as design is seen as “one” of the processes. Design needs to be part of a cultural mindset and something that has to be entrenched in the DNA of the organization before “it” can happen.

2) Design Thinking moves to a higher level of credibility and trust

I sincerely hope that in 2010, Design Thinking really sorts itself out. The competence gets defined properly, practitioners suitably qualified, and the results justify its investment. In other words Design Thinking really becomes a means to an end.

Furthermore, I like to see more designers get involved in Design Thinking, picking up the skills necessary to bridge the gap. In my mind Design and Design Thinking are two sides of the same coin. Therefore I believe designers are best suited to grow and be part of this competence as they have the right foundation anyway. What they need is to pick up the right skills to communicate what they have been trained for.

Eventually I see this as a great career opportunity for designers, especially if Design Thinking moves into organizations that do not traditionally hire designers. It means more work for all of us!

3) Brands realize that people are not stupid

Businesses have always known this but somehow live in denial. They continue to deliver product propositions that don’t make sense. With the Internet allowing both wide and in depth access to information; brands and businesses have to realize that you can no longer expect to “sell ice to an eskimo”.

This fact was brought into sharp relieve in 2009 when the cash strapped, informed and savvy consumer only bought products that made sense or are the best their money can buy. Again it’s survival of the fittest, Apple turned a profit and Dell tanked.

4) People grow immune to consumerism

Conversely, consumers need to adopt more sustainable behaviors and better manage their consumption habits. To a certain extent, businesses that flood the market with product dribble can still get away with this, as there are consumers that are still buy said dribble. When there is a willing buyer, there will always be a willing seller.

I was appalled during this Christmas season at the number of shops flogging, for the lack of a better word, crap. On sale were cigarette lighters crossed with Swiss army knives, head bobbing figurines, phone charms, color changing light pipes, 1001+ pouches for all occasions, digital clocks, FM radio statues and teddy bears at the end of a pens etc. To top it off this “marketplace” was the busiest and noisiest place in the entire mall.

Really do we really need all this stuff?

5) Sustainability becomes part of the brief

I’ll be straight with all of you. We can easily create sustainable products. So why don’t we do it more frequently? Because it requires additional (in fact a lot of) time and effort to ensure all the factors are in place to make a product sustainable.

So in the hum drum of daily business financials, cost management, and shorter product lead times; sustainable discussions often fall by the way side. Compounded by the inertia of large organizations, moving towards sustainable product solutions will be a slow process indeed.

However I believe we can get more than half way there if sustainability is made part of the product brief. The other half would be motivation. I sincerely hope that sustainability becomes a habit, but it is still a very tough discussion. As off right now, sustainability does not gel with economics.

But we will need to persevere for our children’s sake. When we can get more people to be part of the solution, sustainability in products will be easier to implement. When sustainability finally moves to a critical mass, it will then take off, as economics of scale will now be our friend.

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Well that’s my 5 wishes for 2010, a year that I can’t wait for, as I expect it to be really exciting! What about you? What do you hope or wish for yourself, career, design profession or industry? I look forward to hearing from you!

Original Post: http://www.designsojourn.com/5-things-i-wish-for-in-2010/

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