Follow-up Post – European Commission: Design as a driver of user-centred innovation II

In April 2009 I posted about a European Commision looking at Design (with a capital D) as a driver of innovation. Charlotte Arwidi from this commission has now made public the results of a public survey on the report itself. See the full results of the survey here.

In a nutshell :

“91 percent of responding organisations consider that design is very important for the future competitiveness of the EU economy; 91 percent consider that initiatives in support of design should be taken at EU level.

96 percent think that initiatives in support of design should be an integral part of innovation policy in general, 74 percent think that design should be part of EU innovation policy.”

I’m not sure if the sampling of the survey is good, however. Seems there might have been a high degree of self-selection. So, yes–of course a very high percentage of people coming with a Design background will think that Design is an important part of EU innovation policy.

Still, there are some good take-aways from this latest survey. In particular, when asked about barriers to Design the questionnaire reveals:

“Respondents were asked about the most serious barriers to the better use of design in Europe. Multiple answers were possible. The most important barrier is considered the “lack of awareness and understanding of the potential of design among policy makers” (78 percent of organisations; 76 percent of private persons). The second most important barrier is considered the “lack of knowledge and tools to evaluate the rate of return on design investment” (64 percent of organisations; 62 percent of private persons). The third most important barrier is considered the “lack of awareness and understanding of the potential of design among potential design customers, i.e. private and public organisations”

The least frequently selected barriers are the “lack of designers/design companies with the right skills and/or capacity”, and the “lack of high quality design education in Europe”, indicating that there is not a lack of skilled designers in Europe. This conclusion is however partly contradicted by some respondents who suggest that Europe lacks designers with professional skills such as management, marketing and communication. This is described as a problem for designers in their communication with potential clients. Several respondents added that business managers, in particular in SMEs, do not understand design and that, due to this lack of understanding on both sides, designers and their potential customers “do not speak the same language”.”

Seems there are enough us out there with the appropriate skills, but Designers’ talents aren’t necessarily being used effectively. Hopefully, the commission can make a difference and bring awareness to the potential Design can offer innovation.

All of this, BTW, represents what I believe to be a paradigm shift in innovation. Organizations are shifting (or adding) focus from innovation through technology and operational efficiency to innovation via design and user experience. Let’s just hope Designers can capitalize on the opportunity and get their deserved place at the innovation table.

About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL

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