I think that we’ve all heard one variation or another about what some of our colleagues and/or clients think designing really is: “you just make pretty pictures all day long” or “you push a button on your computer and…voila!”

As creative leaders, in an ever-changing industry due to trends and technologies, we know that design is so much more than just a pretty picture. The idea of “design thinking” or design as a strategy, process or methodology is not really a new idea, but it is an extremely popular buzzword within our profession that keeps popping up time and time again.

So, what does design thinking actually mean? How can we, as creative leaders embrace this concept to help elevate the value of design?

What we, as an industry of creative leaders and designers, must do is stand up and educate others that design, in its most effective form, is a process; it is an action, a verb.

Every designer is both an artist and a businessperson; this dichotomy exists in every aspect of our work.  Good design is about problem solving, it offers a more complex perspective on modern-day business challenges. It is a compilation of business, aesthetics, culture and technology. Design is a constant juggling act of both art and sales. Finding the perfect balance between business acumen and design strategy and then determining how to blend them together seamlessly. We are constantly changing hats; we must be professional and business like one moment and then on-demand creative the next.

As leaders, we need to be able to look at the big picture and define the right problems to solve. The design process is an iterative loop of thinking (research, analysis, ideation) and creating (prototyping, refining and testing) and these concepts cannot be separated.

I think that Paul Rand said it best: “Art is an idea that has found its perfect visual expression. And design is the vehicle by which this expression is made possible. Art is a noun, and design is a noun and also a verb. Art is a product and design is a process. Design is the foundation of all the arts.”

Manager of Creative Operations at Saint-Gobain
Philadelphia xCHANGE – Keynote Speaker