I so love this term.
Apparently it was created by Peter Gorb and Angela Dumas for a London Business School paper:
“A great deal of design activity goes on in organizations which is not called design. It is carried out by individuals who are not called designers and who would not consider themselves to be designers. We have called this ‘silent design’.”
When companies and organizations become design centric, Silent Design automatically happens. The activity of design becomes part of the corporate culture and done by everyone. The issue, as implied by the cartoon, is that Designers are afraid to let go. I for one have no problem with this.
However, design centric corporate cultures do make a Designer’s job a whole lot easier and harder at the same time. It becomes easier because everyone has become people-centered, and harder because the role of design has blurred.
I would not worry though as this is pretty normal in multi-disciplinary teams, and when design is applied as a holistic activity. As long as there is mutual respect between roles and competences, Designers will have a very important role to play in organizations for many years to come.
Brian is the Founder and Design Director at Design Sojourn, a Design Led Innovation Consultancy. He is a multi-award winning design leader, and specialises in strategic design and innovation programs that drive successful organisations. Brian’s 20-year career in design, driven through a deep understanding of human behavior, spans over multiple domains such as consumer electronics, government, healthcare, non-profit agencies, hospitality, F&B, retail, online solutions and best in class service experiences.