Michael Bierut: Innovation vs. Design

Designer Michael Bierut has an interesting post about design and innovation at The Design Observer. The short version would be that businesses–and organizational development teams–are swapping out the term design for the far sexier code word “Innovation.”
Bierut writes: “It’s not hard to see why innovation is becoming the design world’s favorite euphemism. Design sounds cosmetic and ephemeral; innovation sounds energetic and essential. Design conjures images of androgynous figures in black turtlenecks wielding clove cigarettes; innovators are forthright fellows with their shirtsleeves rolled up, covering whiteboards with vigorous magic-markered diagrams, arrows pointing to words like “Results!” But best of all, the cult of innovation neatly sidesteps the problem that has befuddled the business case for design from the beginning. Thomas Watson Jr.’s famous dictum “good design is good business” implies that there’s good design and there’s bad design; what he doesn’t reveal is how to reliably tell one from the other. Neither has anyone else. It’s taken for granted that innovation, however, is always good. ”
Susan sez: Reading this post made me think about the number of times in the past month people have talked about wanting to hire designers who are “really Web 2.0” types–and how what they always seem to mean is they use Ajax.