I’ve had many opportunities to collaborate with Mauro Porcini, SVP & Chief Design Officer, PepsiCo. We developed a conference together in Milan, have been speakers at conferences in Seattle, Boston, London, Copenhagen and a small town in Norway, Advisers to DMI, and attended many other activities. I’ve deep admiration for what he has accomplished professionally, and the light he carries advancing the role of design in business. He’s not only a great guy, he has some great insights about building a corporate culture of design-led innovation. He was just interviewed by IIR for their upcoming FUSE conference in Miami this spring, here are his comments about integrating design and corporate culture:
“Your company needs to develop a space for design to exist and express itself in deep integration with the business units but with the right empowerment and freedom. Isolation in ivory towers is the worst mistake. Central to this is the principle of co-leadership between marketing and design, to drive brand building and innovation. Whereas the business leader is the ultimate owner of the brand destiny, marketing and design must be deployed together to create, develop and manage the brand vision and strategy.
To make this happen in a non-design-driven culture, you need both a top down push and a bottom up effort. A top down push requires sponsorship and protection from the CEO or a top executive, while a bottom up effort, integrated across the company, allows the entire body of the organization to own the new design culture and drive it with you, project by project, brand by brand. In order to accelerate effectiveness, you should always hunt for some quick business wins to prove the value of this new culture. This endeavor will sometimes mandate taking shortcuts or compromises and ignoring some chapters of the book of the perfect designer, putting the bigger picture in front of you. Once you acquire the right credibility, trust and a seat at the table within your organization, you will then have time to consolidate all your efforts for the perfect design vision and finally deliver sustainable innovation and long term business results.
To drive all of this you need design leaders with the right characteristics to strive in such situations. Remember: the quality of your design leaders is the most important asset you need and it trumps any process or framework. You need design leaders with knowledge, vision, passion, resilience, optimism, empathy and curiosity. Without them, don’t even start.”