Design and business are intertwined.

Sifting through various media and by maintaining awareness of one’s surroundings, one can see patterns and trends emerging in various areas such as brands, aesthetics, words, graphics, architecture, politics, speech habits, and fashion. 

Working in the space between patterns is where one can discover the links between disparate elements and it’s where opportunities exist to create something new. There is enormous potential at the intersection of design and business. It is at this intersection in particular where waves of ideas, technology, or belief systems will merge to create a new reality. It’s one thing to see the pattern, but yet another to do something meaningful with it. It’s in the action to connect them that leaps in growth can happen.

I’m anxious to see how the relationship between business and design will evolve, particularly in corporations that have developed a capacity for design. I’m also watching to see how the language of business changes.

How will executives begin to talk about doing business after design methods and thinking have been infused into their organizations? Will a new vocabulary emerge that is a hybrid of business and design-speak? There are several words that I hope to see appear in an executive’s vocabulary: form, space, and order. Not your typical words that you would hear in a boardroom, but, they are important concepts that are central to creating a system in balance. 

Form is shape and structure.  The shape of information, the structure of a building, or the layout of a website affects how we perceive, experience, or interface with it. 

Space is the volume or area created by the form of an organization where human interaction takes place.  A room in a building, an atrium, the virtual space of a computer, or the hierarchy of a business.    

Order is how the parts of an organization or an experience relate to the whole and ultimately convey a shape or structure’s purpose. 

Understanding form, space, and order can help one to make sense of what is real in a multifaceted, highly networked society. 

It can be used to illuminate the underlying values, trends, or beliefs of any organization. It enables one to cut through an image-saturated environment and arrive at ground truths.

Business and design are now intertwined and clear thinking is required in order help organizations navigate constantly shifting economic, political, and social conditions. The specific language that executives use will have an impact on how people perceive the integration of design into existing business processes. The words form, space, and order are places to start thinking about how to communicate these new modes of operating that will result from the merger of business and design.

This is a reprint of a piece that was published in the fall.

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