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Bruce Nussbaum: The New York Times knows nothing about design thinking

To what extent has “design thinking” managed to infiltrate the mainstream media? Apparently, very little, according to Bruce Nussbaum of Business Week. After reading a story in the New York Times about the back-end process innovation occurring at companies like Apple and Google, Nussbaum takes the New York Times to task for its lack of design acumen. While Nussbaum’s critique is not quite as violent as the banya scene from the film Eastern Promises, Nussbaum definitely doesn’t mind mixing it up with the New York Times:

“There is a sad, apologetic story about process innovation in the New York Times today that make me want to cry about how one of the great Mainstream Media companies just cannot cover design and innovation… It’s not that the article is bad–it’s a nice discussion about how

back-end process innovation is often key to the success of products.

The problem is the rarity of this kind of piece in the NYT. Design in

the Times is still mostly about style, aesthetics and fashion. Glitzy,

cool stuff with skinny models and empty, but beautiful homes. Coverage

of design in the Times is a throwback to, what, the 50’s? The entire

evolution of design out of simple form to process, methods, strategy

and more just isn’t in the newspaper. Even the business side of

fashion, which is huge, is barely covered. Ditto for architecture. The

best business story of 15 Central Park West, the new Robert

Stern-designed building in Manhattan that every mogul wants to get

into, was best done by The New Yorker.

Part of the problem is that the business section of the Times

doesn’t get innovation. Doesn’t understand the true and changing nature

of innovation (beyond the speed and performance of technology). The

Zachary piece in the Sunday Business section is a rare exception.

But mostly, the problem is with the editors at the Times who don’t

understand the discipline of design and what kind of power it has. For

example, if we really could design a better health care system from the

patient up, how could we do it? If we could design a better voting

system, how could we do it?

These are big questions that design can answer. But the Times has to be asked them.”

In many ways, I think Nussbaum hits the nail on the head when it comes to design coverage in the mainstream media. How many times is a “design” article really just an excuse to show a really beautiful model lounging around on a really beautiful couch while playing around on a really beautiful digital device? At the end of the day, design coverage should be about re-designing businesses rather than just re-designing products.

[image: The unsung heroes of design]


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