Are Australian designers too conservative?

A recent Infosys Digital Radar survey of 9000 people aged between 16 and 25 found that Australians are among the most risk averse people in the developed world. The survey conducted in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, South Africa, the UK and US, puts us at the bottom of the heap when it comes to taking risks. The results showed that we only become more risk averse as we get older.

So how risk averse are Australian designers?

The Infosys survey reported that design is a ‘transformation accelerator’. Being design centric is one way to reduce risk.

So how many design agencies are design centric?

Seems like a no brainer.

“We’re designers; of course we’re design centric.”

Not so if you return to the survey:

“Design-led companies have effective processes in place to continuously listen to customers. They are committed to testing ideas and iterating those ideas better over time.”

Infosys Digital Radar 2019

Disrupt to survive

In short you need to disrupt your business model to be truly design centric.

This was brought out in the October 2015 Harvard Business Review article, “The Future & How to Survive It,” by Richard Dobbs, Tim Koller, Sree Ramaswamy:

“Companies need to be willing to disrupt themselves before others do it to them. That requires overcoming the fear that a new product or channel will cannibalize an existing business. Many companies struggle with legacy assets and productivity gaps in their own operations (some firms have a 40% gap between their most and least productive areas), and companies will need to get much better at overcoming strategic inertia.”

Design agencies are already seeing this disruption.

If ‘continuously listening’ and understanding our clients and their customers is integral to being design centric then the CX, UX brigade has already disrupted the ‘normal’ design studio.

If you don’t have a method for tracing your clients’ journey in working with you then you’re not design centric.

If you don’t have a method to understand and listen to your clients’ customers you are not design centric.

Retain and grow clients by understanding their customers

Now, more than ever, design needs to be supported by research and evidence that defines the clients real needs. And in a world of collaboration and co-creation, we need skills and tools to help understand clients, their markets and their customers. We have a methodology for this – a masterclass that shares a human centred design tool designers can use to understand clients and their customers.

See more about how to Retain and grow clients by understanding their customers


Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.