This insight describes an argument where designers don’t have the right education and training, skillset, mindset. While these elements are all different in nature – education what you get in school, training what you can get throughout your career, skillset embodies hard + soft skills and result from natural and apprehended means, and mindset which is more related to a set of attitudes closely related to ethos – they all seem to stem from education choices which might be built on values and core beliefs, much more than structural limitations.
Research into what they call ‘path to education’ concluded that a Bachelor degree is still the most prevalent path, while online training and other workshops and training being on the rise.
The element of lack of preparation given by design schools and corporations, but also pursued by designers on their own, were important topics. It is known that designers are used to taking on new challenges in areas that are new to them, they are accustomed to learning enough to be able to come in with suggestions and recommendations that reveal a healthy mix of naivety (in a positive sense), acquired knowledge and transversal expertise, it is highly unlikely that designers would not be able to learn new subjects and acquire new knowledge, even if these were more of the technical or scientific area, there is nothing intrinsic in the nature of a designers that would make them less suitable to learn certain things in lieu of others.
But the reality described by a few non-designers and the data collected from the senior/ mid-career designer survey suggests that beyond design education that might have some known shortcomings, designers are not betting on their own preparation, further education beyond design related skills, which in turn affects their experience and subsequent access to C-suite level positions.
Preparation was indeed a top insight to explain the scarcity of designers in the C-Suite of large corporations, and this was brought up in the surveys as a top reason from both designers and non-designers. Design education must change to adapt to the changing environment of corporations and society, perhaps this coming decade and impacted by the disruption Covid-19 has brought to all parts of society, design education too will see a dramatic change. If we consider the teaching of design thinking to non-designers in different educational settings an experiment, we have to perhaps agree that it has turned into a successful one, perhaps too successful according to some. On the other hand, if we consider the teaching of other ‘languages’ to designers, like technology, business, management, marketing, we might be forced to accept that perhaps this was not as successful, but we have not done this research and cannot in good faith make this statement.