Interview with John Gleason

Davin Greenwell, April 01, 2021 at 8:31 PM
John was Proctor & Gamble's first executive dedicated to leading and shaping the company's external design and innovation relationships. In 2007, John founded A Better View Strategic Consulting, LLC to "enhance the intersection of creative relationships". John answers a few questions about Design Currency 2010 in this interview.

DW: What are you looking forward to most about Design Currency 2010?

JG: the diversity of experiences and perspective.   the opportunity to learn from these experiences, and from the journey of others.   the inspiration and energy that comes from  curiosity, inquisitive senses, and sharing of experiences to help drive solutions... real business solutions... via Design.

DW: What does the conference theme “Design Currency” mean to you?

JG: double entendre...  

1) to remain relevant and current regarding matters of design.   who is doing what?  how are others leveraging design?  can design (and design leaders) articulate the business value of their contributions?  will brands understand the value that design might play to help build equity, brand value, and drive business results?; and

2) value... real monetary, business value.   This is not about creating "beautiful artifacts".   Organizations invest in design to help solve complex challenges... whether brands and their markets  or  governments and their constituents.   Thinking and problem-solving that might contributed to, and eventually result in, tangible "equity" for brands, for people, and for companies (brand-owners and design enterprises, alike).

DW: If design was currency, who would have the most? Who would have the least?

JG: hmmmm.   this is a tough one for many reasons - and is directly related to your next question (criteria to evaluate design).   this really depends on the lens through which you look and on the criteria used to assess (and can be highly subjective)... here are some thoughts:

Who has the most? consumers...  or more broadly the users of products, services, experiences.   consumers/users are the source of inspiration for brands and experiences.   they are the keepers and creators of insights - if we choose to listen, observe, and unlock.   they are ultimately the evaluators of "good" design, as they "vote" with their currency, their support (or disappointment or confusion), their loyalty, and their advocacy.

Who has the least? those who just don't "get it".   those who don't get out of their cubes or their labs to observe human behavior.   those who innovate based on internal ideation based on what else might they make on their manufacturing assets (versus what consumers want/need/expect).   those who see design as an expense that must be minimized and cost-saved, versus an investment.   those who subjectively evaluate design, with the words:  "like" and "don't like"... or critique and evaluate design choices based on their own personal preferences.   those who see "design" as a role or an organization.   those who see "design" as a degree or an activity... and not - a way of thinking, a process, an experience, a philosophy, a culture.   those who do not believe that great design (and design-thinking) can drive tangible business results.

DW: What criteria do you use to evaluate design?

JG: Do the choices and actions of a "brand" have a clear line of sight to the users/consumers of this "brand"?   are solutions built from this point of view FIRST?   does the proposition offer a strong "business" proposition (meets key needs, delivers benefits, respects & manages resources, looks to cure - not to only treat symptoms)


John Gleason will be speaking at Design Currency 2010. Learn more about him on John Gleason's speaker page.

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