Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!
This past week, I attended a conference. It was brilliant and enjoyable, and hosted by people I respect.
I think it was meant to be a design thinking and strategy conference, but it was opined by several speakers that design thinking was not really a term to be used anymore, that it was a term overused, perhaps abused. And this was opined by the very voices that had proposed we use this term a couple of years ago. This is what makes such conferences fun – they are not the venues where the world’s most pressing problems are solved, but where coinage is generated. To consultants [sometimes called innovation consultants, or similar] and to pundits, coinage directly translates to coin.
Coinage is coin.
To generate coin, one needs coinage. It is my belief that we will now see a phase out of design thinking and innovation consulting, to be replaced by facsimiles sufficiently different, new enough and profound enough, capable of supporting a trove of new terminology or generating a new lexicon, yet not so different that clients who were sold on the last generation of nomenclature will be seriously miffed.
The best pundits will bathe aglow in a new light, and ones in the second tier will bask in reflected glory.
Through our work in industry, and our contact with those who have availed of the services of these pundits, we know that clients are starting to tire of innovation plans, books and documents. Document and plan generation is a highly profitable business for the pundit – it makes for a profession generally devoid of responsibility for successful implementation or the consequences of failure. But a graphically pleasing plan still needs to be translated to action, into products and services that the client is in the business of making and selling. Without this, the plan leaves the client pretty much where they started, but marginally less well off. And sometimes substantially more ticked off.
Some of you may already know this, and will consider this little piece a rant rife with naiveté. To those few, I apologize – but then, they will probably not be reading this anyway. I predict that ‘innovation consulting’ will be removed from the phraseology of these design organizations before 2013 is upon us. Prove me wrong, and you get my GR21 [a great camera, samples here].
To summarize, I borrow heavily and shamelessly from the French, Monk, the X Files and Philips [from a while ago] : Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! It’s a jungle out there. Trust no one. Let’s make things better.