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Stirring Design Into Business

Nick Leon, the new director of Design London, intends to teach his multidisciplinary design methodand eventually change the world

In contrast to many of the experts canvassed for this year's Talent Hunt, Nick Leon doesn't like the phrase "design thinking." The new director of Design London, a multidisciplinary educational initiative launched recently by the Royal College of Art and Imperial College in London would prefer that people use the phrase "design method."

"If you went into the boardroom and said, 'What we need is business thinking,' people would roll their eyes," he says by phone from London. "You have to talk about something with more rigor. 'Design method' is how you organize multidisciplinary teams, how you exploit technology or what processes and practices you might apply. These are all things that are as natural as breathing to a designer—but which aren't regularly used in a business sense. To start talking about 'design thinking' in the boardroom or in the business school doesn't seem strong enough. It seems a little conceptual—I want to get deeper than that."