This insight describes an argument that designers tend to stick to design, they have little to no experience in managing other areas, and this being something that defines the necessary flexibility for anyone to get a position in the C-suite of a large corporation. It’s the example of CEO’s that started in a low wage area in the company and does a multitude of jobs gaining experience before he/she reaches the top echelon of the corporation, executives who might start as an engineer but take on a job at managing a group of people and knowledge area that is not associated with their training, and then might take on a country/ market/ segment, while delivering results and accumulating experience in many different domains. In the research domain, this is called job rotation and has been identified as one of the oldest and most powerful ways for leaders to develop, research studies show that many managers consider job experiences as the primary source of learning.
Flexibility allied with experience is indeed an important, if not the most important insight in response to our question, both explicitly and implicitly. While experience in itself is a result of doing something for a very long time, what we are discussing here is the cumulative experiences resulting from job rotation, hence the term flexibility and not experience. While some could argue that experience is crucial for any other job, let alone a job in the C-suite of a Fortune 50 company, what is meant by experience in the case of design is an interesting debate because of the nature of design, touching different areas of the service offering which in turn exposes designers to many different areas of learning. Far more than rotating jobs in areas other than design, we believe an accumulation of experiences in the design area but within different design specialties is positive, a trained industrial designer will gain from managing a team of digital designers, while adding design research and establishing strong links (even if not as a manager) with other areas like branding and marketing. This lack of flexibility might also impact the perception that a designer might not be able, capable of managing others in areas other than design, and in many cases where the corporation decides to have design aggregated with other areas, there might be a hesitation in hiring a designer for the job.