Design Can Strengthen Automakers in Mobility Era
It is the chief design officer’s duty to balance the automotive industry’s relative conservatism with an artist’s vision-driven commitment combined with an athlete’s agile responsiveness.
Ward's Auto published a bylined article co-authored by Walter Friederichs and Paul Stohr and based the firm's research, "How to Create Competitive Advantage in Mobility," The article is excerpted below.
The words “design” and “automotive” immediately invoke thoughts of sleek contours, clay models and futuristic concepts, but design thinking goes beyond lines and colors. It is a discipline focused on producing human-centered solutions to fundamental needs and complex problems, such as those of personal mobility.
Following our research and discussions with design leaders within and outside the automotive industry, it has become clear to us that design thinking has the potential to be the definitive differentiator for companies seeking to carve out their space in the mobility era. In fact, we are so certain of design’s growing importance we predict that by 2020, 60% of leading OEMs will have a chief design officer on their management boards, almost double the proportion of today’s 33%.
Design thinking already is catching on in other industries; it may be said to be the secret ingredient behind Apple’s fabled rise. The CEOs of IBM and PepsiCo have spoken publicly about the centrality of design thinking to their success. Both organizations operate in industries with no shortage of cutting-edge tools, potential products and unique customers.
Design thinking can introduce much-needed discipline and guide the development of solutions for consumers that truly meet their current needs, or unearth new ones. One of the signals of mature design thinking at these companies is the inclusion of their design leaders on their respective executive management boards – Mauro Porcini at PepsiCo and Phil Gilbert at IBM.
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