I thought about the question of “Why do designers have sometimes more and sometimes less influence on the productdevelopmentprocess (PDP), why their work is valued sometimes more, sometimes less and why there are times we are working 24 hours and times nobody seems to need a designer..
Well, I found out that it does not depend on kinds of enemies but on market cycles. Think nearly everybody heard about Kondratiev wave which is around 45-60 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kondratiev_wave) and describes “ages“. We now live in the age of information and telecommunication. Inside this wave there are lots of new technologies invented and appropriate products developed.
Broken down to an prototypic companies tasks that means:
The more continuous innovation- and development potential a company has, the more designer they need, because the return on investment must be guaranteed. Like in Fig. 1 at (1) the company has developed a break-through product (basic innovation), which is very far from market and users, but is definitely useful for pushing the own market forward. So next step (2) is to develop derivate-products which guide users from the latest tech. state to the new one (product-strategy). At this point designers and creativity methods are required. But the more the basic innovation spreads among manufacturers (who often do no R&D themselves) the more derivates reach the market. The pressure on designers and marketers increases (3) because the decrease of the profit margin forces the management to chance strategy. If a company reaches (4) and has no next basic innovation (5) designers are the first emloyees that must leave the sinking ship, because there is no work for them to do..
I got this idea reading an old Text from Harvard Business Review: “Creating Project Plans to Focus Product Development" by Wheelwright and Clark from 3/4 1992
This is all broken down to the very simple level - please excuse that.. If anybody has further ideas, comments or knows some good literature for this topic, you´re alays welcome!