5 Things I Wish for in 2010?

Dawn is too early
Image by Rob Warde
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.
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.
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!

  • Jane Fane

    January 7, 2010 at 2:05 pm Reply

    2010 will be a great year ! Always look positive towards the future and try not to repeat the same mistakes again… I also wish for better health, prosperity in the world and a greener way of living. great post DT

  • George I

    January 5, 2010 at 10:42 pm Reply

    Here’s raising my glass to MUCH better 2010 and toasting with you!

  • Justin Moore-Brown

    January 5, 2010 at 6:13 pm Reply

    Bravo brother. You killed it with this post, and I love your outlook on both 2009 and 2010. I loved the fact that you, and many others, saw that 2009 was a year of opportunity by taking advantage of the down time to re-brand and to establish a brand by pulling away from the crowd.
    Differentiation is a big thing and 2009 was a great time to do it.
    Thanks for sharing and heres to a successful 2010!

  • Daniel Christadoss

    December 25, 2009 at 6:31 am Reply

    Thanks for a great list for 2010
    I would like to share mine with you and your readers.
    2010 should be a 20/10 year
    We learn to have energy savings of 20% using creative methods
    We use the sun, wind and other renewable energy sources 10%
    2010 should be the year of the creator of sustainable cities
    2010 should have more people gainfully employed
    2010 should bring better health to humanity
    2010 should show the world hope and a path for the future
    Wishing the citizens of the world a happy and prosperous new year
    Daniel Christadoss

  • DT

    December 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm Reply

    @emmanuel: Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments! I love the quote: In Design We Trust!
    @George: Great example, and I can fully relate to it. This is a really common story of sustainability dying a quick death within a corporate environment. Thanks for sharing and a Merry Christmas to you and your family as well!

  • George I

    December 22, 2009 at 11:27 pm Reply

    Dude all I can say is ditto. And, “As off right now, sustainability does not gel with economics” – you summed it up. When I was at Fisher-Price, and we had a chance to use plant-based bioplastic for the first time in brand’s history, the great idea died a quick and painful death the minute costs showed up. Beyond sad – untill the both the costs and material properties of bioplastics come closely competitive with commodity materials, it’s a no-go for mass manufacturers like that.
    O and – Merry Christmas and a lovely 2010 to you!

  • Emmanuel

    December 22, 2009 at 9:59 am Reply

    Maybe I’m quite hopeful too, but I think the wishes you listed are on the way.
    I wish also to see the 4th realized, this could be a trend of “consciousness” with many positive consequences.
    And the best I could wish, is that crisis become a sort of major Renaissance for our civilizations.
    We were too focused, the crash awake us, and now we have to think globally and we will do that.
    “In design we trust” 🙂

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