Fashion designers can take heart knowing that McKinsey Design’s report “The Business Value of Design” shows that the “best design performers increase their revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry counterparts.”

After five years of research and interviews with 300 global, publicly listed companies, the results are in. The McKinsey Design Index stressed four key areas — starting with C-suite executives taking an analytical approach to design by keeping track and leading companies’ design performance with the same amount of gusto they do for revenues and costs.

The next area regarded making the user experience paramount by keeping things fluid within physical products, services, digital interactions and other sectors. The third area concerned supporting top design talent and empowering them with cross–functional teams “that take collective accountability for improving the user experience,” the report said. Lastly, the fourth area was about continuous iteration; design work doesn’t end with launches — companies need to keep at it — testing, incorporating user insights and creating multiple versions, according to the study. (Think Apple watch, which was not a one-and-done endeavor.)

The recognizable red Swiss Army Knife, Google’s home page and the Disneyland experience were singled out as “reminders of the way strong design can be at the heart of both disruptive and sustained commercial success in physical, service and digital settings,” the report said. The importance of a strong vision at the top was also cited, such as how Ikea works “to create a better everyday life for many people,” and how Pixar cofounder Ed Catmull has spoken about how to “wow” moviegoers continually; his company encourages its teams to take risks with their new projects.

To highlight how design-driven companies need to think beyond their own corporate berms, the study highlighted broad thinking. A ready-made-meals retailer, for example, has considered teaming up with Netflix for a one-click, meal-ordering system aimed at time-strapped singles that would come into play with a screen prompt, two hours into their post-work binge watching. McKinsey Design researchers made the point that mobile-payment services such as Google Pay and Apple Pay stemmed from thinking across boundaries to devise easier ways to access cash.

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