Some time ago I have read a book that mentioned that design is the ultimate step to achieve quality.
Definitively the statement is not wrong, most great products are very well designed. The problems comes in my opinion when thinking from the perspective of a small business owner and the possibilities of getting design that is affordable. The question would be: are small businesses capable of achieving great design?
Before answering I would need to give more details of my observations.
I see that our world is changing and transforming itself into an “skills aware” place. That is good news for people constantly looking to become better and what they are already good. More people finds that they don’t need a corporation to back their initiatives and each time more professionals feel proud about being independent. Technology allows individuals to connect with others and that provides an unprecedented flexibility.
If the previous is true then I could conclude that small companies and big ones should take advantage of the same opportunities individual professionals have. The challenge is that currently most of them don’t have the same experience than independent professionals and their vision is basically on making money by saving.
In my opinion any kind of business organization should fulfill one special pre-requisite: provide the environment and infrastructure for independent professionals to express their talent. The ideal of every knowledge worker is to be able to concentrate on the project without many worries: paying the bills, finding new customers, etc.
In other words, companies should be built to help professionals achieve their goals, improve their skills and create excellent products and services for the company where they work (common goal). Currently employees work to help the company to get more money. Understanding that is very important; individuals without clear goals, professional ambitions and lack of interest on their own legacy are definitively narrowing their chances of success.
Going back to the question about affordable design, I would say that the world of design is full of great and talented professionals that respect their individuality and recognize their skills, they need flexible schedules and time for inspiration. It is a group of people that already knows what is to work independently. If SMBs acknowledges that designers require flexibility, independence and peace of mind and that their business should be a system focused on creating value and profitability, then I’m sure that designers will be willing to help them.