The power of transformative design, multidisciplinary leaps, and diversity: lessons from a Black professional's journey through corporate America.
Design offers so much more than an aesthetically pleasing logo or banner, a beautification add-on after the heavy lifting. In Reimagining Design, Kevin Bethune shows how design provides a unique angle on problem-solving--how it can be leveraged strategically to cultivate innovation and anchor multidisciplinary teamwork. As he does so, he describes his journey as a Black professional through corporate America, revealing the power of transformative design, multidisciplinary leaps, and diversity. Bethune, who began as an engineer at Westinghouse, moved on to Nike (where he designed Air Jordans), and now works as a sought-after consultant on design and innovation, shows how design can transform both individual lives and organizations.
In Bethune's account, diversity, equity, and inclusion emerge as a recurring theme. He shows how, as we leverage design for innovation, we also need to consider the broader ecological implications of our decisions and acknowledge the threads of systemic injustice in order to realize positive change. His book is for anyone who has felt like the "other"--and also for allies who want to encourage anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-ageist behaviors in the workplace. Design transformation takes leadership--leaders who do not act as gatekeepers but, with agility and nimbleness, build teams that mirror the marketplace.
Design in harmony with other disciplines can be incredibly powerful; multidisciplinary team collaboration is the foundation of future innovation. With insight and compassion, Bethune provides a framework for bringing this about.
Kevin Bethune is the Founder & Chief Creative Officer of dreams • design + life, a "think tank" that delivers design & innovation services using a human-centered approach. Kevin's background spans engineering, business and design in equal proportion over his 20+ year career, positioning him to help brands deliver meaningful innovations to enrich people's lives.
His work represents creative problem-solving that brings multidisciplinary teams together to see the future through an open aperture, and a deep industrial design approach to inform and influence desirable, feasible and business-viable design outcomes.
Kevin began his career as a mechanical engineer in the nuclear power industry. This chapter gave him deep product experience working with high performing teams across 14 nuclear reactor upgrade campaigns. After his MBA, Kevin joined Nike, Inc. in a business capacity, but quickly navigated to the Global Footwear product engine to drive advanced digital product creation capabilities, discovering the world of design in the process. After solidifying his creative foundation through further studies at ArtCenter College of Design, Kevin co-founded distinct design & innovation capabilities at two Tier 1 management consulting firms in Booz & Co. and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). As Vice President of Strategic Design at BCG Digital Ventures, he led a large cohort of designers that would influence and shape every corporate venture spun out from the incubator. Kevin left BCG Digital Ventures to carve his own path under the banner of dreams • design + life, focusing on unlocking human potential through strategic design, industrial design and the building of new ecologies.
Kevin also serves as a Board Trustee for ArtCenter College of Design and the Board Chair for the Design Management Institute (DMI).
As a designer, I was very excited to learn from a multidisciplinary leader with such vast experiences… However, I think the title should be changed to target the operational leadership of VPs and C level executives. I still found it a worthwhile and great read, but I have no authority to implement most of the ideas(as innovative and ingenious as they may be). Bethune illustrates his methodologies, literally and figuratively, in very insightful and digestible ways that really enriched my experience. It’s honestly a tragedy and quite ironic reading the comments that so many had similar experiences with this book, written by someone with such deep understanding of marketing.
Largely an autobiography that tracks the author's experience with design. Difficult to separate the concept with the persona but there are some gems here for planners seeking some insight into approaches to development and refinement of products.
Everything that’s written in this book is valid. Though if you are already working in the sector, then you probably are familiar with the things described. Some of these things you probably understand them better. Perhaps a book for those who are just now entering the sector.
Felt it was 3.5 but I'll round up. I wasn't quite sure who the best target audience would be--management people or product designers or students. Probably a mix of all three. Parts of it were tough to read, maybe because of the font so I wonder if the audiobook might be a better experience.
No design methods were harmed in the making of this book.
I really enjoyed the very personal retelling of Kevin’s story and experience shaping strategic design at BCGDV. As a strategic designer at BCG myself, I am a bit biased in finding this very relevant and in relating to all the stories and scenarios described.
On a personal level, I also studied engineering and switched my focus on Human-computer interaction, which fell in with human-centred design and became known as UX in the web world, before sprawling into Design Thinking and Strategic Design. Each path is different. Reading about Kevin’s career, and how he went from Engineering, to Business and then to Design, I finally felt like I had found a home and someone who had trod the (less travelled) path I am on before me.
This book is a first step in making the case for designers leading the strategy shaping activities of multi-disciplinary teams to get as much as we can from everybody’s superpowers. As a firm believer of Design is for Strategy, I would say that this book is worth reading! And I love how it is not a textbook, or an exhaustive compendium of doctrine and methods. This is a story, lived by a human, and it is worth sharing.