Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Quote of the Day

In down economies, the only thing that’s going to change things is changing things. This is hard for a lot of marketers automotive designers/design managers/product planners who are used to defending the status quo, but it’s truly the best option.

If you’re not happy with what you’ve got, what radical changes are you willing to make to change what you’re getting?

Quote adapted from Seth Godin

It wasn’t so long ago that I was talking about the need for designers and their employers to be making the most of the crummy situation in which we find ourselves and I think Seth’s recent posting on change really adds weight to my argument.

If this downturn is showing us anything it’s that the traditional ways of engaging with clients and customers are no longer effective. Many industries have recognised this already but the automotive planet revolves at a slower pace and with far greater inertia.

If we’re to continue to do what we love doing, we’re going to have to respond rapidly and in far more imaginative ways than we have been so far. Cutting brands and slashing jobs alone won’t do it. Halting development, as many are, is not the solution either. You may need to reassess exactly what you are developing, but when the money starts flowing, you’re going to need remarkable products to bounce back. Don’t let this mess get you down, use it to drive your creativity and sow the seeds of lasting, positive change.

[Source: Seth Godin]

Category: Branding, Car, Design Strategy, Philosophy, Things I like

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  1. Michael says:

    Only slightly related here, but i’d like to get your opinion, as someone who understands the automotive culture and how to be strategic: Do the rigors of transportation design school (heavy focus on sketching) create a workforce that isn’t diversified enough?

    In other words, how do automotive designers learn to be strategic when they’re forced to spend night and day learning to sketch cars correctly? Is part of the reason the auto world has such a strong status quo because we don’t have enough people challenging it smartly?

  2. drewpasmith says:

    It’s funny you post this comment because I’ve not long returned from the Phrozheim University winter show and I’m trying to formulate a piece dealing with exactly this issue!

    My initial and unedited response is that yes, I think the attitudes within the schools play a big part, and I think the schools that I have been associated with don’t do enough to encourage the students to think strategically about their work.

    Certainly in my personal experience on the Coventry MA program, there were the makings of better “strategic thinking” teaching, with people like Nick Hull and Cherie Lebbon working to get students to see the bigger picture. There needed to be a bigger stick wielded however to encourage students to take it seriously.

    Of course it also falls back on the students too, particularly at MA level, to see the benefit of the strategic approach. Sadly, there is the mentality that “my sketches have to be better than anybody else’s and that will make me successful”. Lots of those guys are now working as alias monkeys or aren’t in the industry at all…

    In a sense it was lucky for me that my sketching wasn’t the best, far from it in fact, but it helped me to focus on an alternative route. As I’ve said previously, it’s sometimes a hard sell in the automotive industry, but I feel that times are about to change for the better and the schools need to prepare their students for this.

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