Designers are essential in business, with caveats

But why do some design teams succeed where others fail? Global consultancy McKinsey & Co. tries to answer the question in a a major new report this provides some insight into why some design teams tend to have a bigger impact inside and outside their company than others.

After studying data from 3 million designers in over 100,000 design departments and then supplementing this study with surveys of over 250 business and design leaders as well as 30 senior executives from design-led companies , McKinsey came to a perhaps surprising conclusion: the size of a design team alone does not dictate a company’s performance. Instead, McKinsey argues that success comes from integrating designers into larger teams and operations in a company. This structure was the most important factor in determining the impact of the design on the business.

[Photo: Courtesy McKinsey & Co.]

“We found that organizational integration was the hallmark of successful design departments,” the report said. “Instead of trying to ‘protect’ designers within the design studio, chief design officers (CDOs) work with the C suite to integrate designers into cross-functional teams and give them the necessary training and tools. to collaborate and lead successfully. ”

The benefits McKinsey points to of this strategic integration are two-fold: it ensures that designers are engaged with core business needs (rather than siloed without any ideas), and it also allows designers to share their approach and point of view. view (which one might dub “design thinking”) across the enterprise to encourage better problem solving. McKinsey notes that for the companies in his study, this strategy improved the products shipped to consumers. Additionally, design-integrated companies were three times more likely to use their design teams to also solve internal process issues.

[Photo: Courtesy McKinsey & Co.]

“They should be guides to good design, not its guardians,” McKinsey wrote in the report. As a bonus, designers who are more tightly integrated into a business are learning critical skills outside of design, especially gaining experience in marketing, finance, and sales, and McKinsey goes so far as to recommend that designers receive mentorship and training to help develop these skills. , as these are the key ingredients needed to promote designers to critical leadership positions.

McKinsey has also found that companies that have successfully integrated their design teams don’t just see the financial rewards, including revenue growth, increased share price, and overall profitability; they also perform better in more delicate measures, such as employee satisfaction, environmental and social impact, innovation, adaptability to COVID-19, user orientation and innovation. Designers who are tightly integrated with company functions are also much more likely to stay with a company for more than five years.

If you want to read the full report, you can access it for free here.

Abdul J. Gaspar