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In a week, the Intuit Plano campus will throw our third annual Design Week, in concert with a three-day unstructured engineering free-for-all called Innovation Days. As we evolve as an organization — and as design evolves with each passing day, due in no small part to the rapid advances of experience technology (interfaces, mobile and vocal leaps forward, data-driven personalization, intelligent systems) the implicit link between design and engineering has never been stronger or more important.

We join forces with our engineering and product management brethren on the daily to learn from — and frequently obsess over our customers. We use what we learn, along with a variety of design and technology provocations to explore a deepening relationship between our customers and their clients. And the ways technology can potentially enhance — or dangerously disrupt those relationships.

The more our design/product management/engineering triad does together — learning, building, testing, iterating — the question that looms is: where IS the differentiated opportunity for design to deliver its special sauce? More than UI or experience definition (visual, motion and interaction design). More than user research. More than artifacts designed to make transparent our services, strategies and user needs. More than tone and voice and brand and even soul.

Designers thrive on curiosity. Diversity. Taking risks. Generating tons of potential. Chasing magic first, specifics second. They will always have partners who temper their creativity, enthusiasm and bold ideas with limits like scope, and structure and criteria to make the unreal slightly more so.

Designers thrive on constraints. But design can also be the lightning in the bottle. A spark of human truth mixed with a dash of “what if…?” and a jolt of “why not…?”

And of course, that jolt often takes the form of a really simple tangible concept. A prototype. As I type it, I wince a little. There’s a risk that naming it makes what it is more important than what its for: A tool to both provoke and clarify. To elicit emotion and action. For an end user, but also for the designer and her team. First to illuminate, later to validate.

Design Week will be about incentivizing an organization to set aside common sense and take small, informed and relatively safe risks in pursuit of learning. Learning about each other and about some interesting emerging experience trends. And specifically we’ll be learning how we can use the super powers of design in ways that compliment the equally impressive powers of engineers to make our irrational ideas into rational experiences.

We’ll share beautiful and exciting work being done across our company, and across the Dallas metroplex. We’ll bring in a start-up to learn about how a spark of an idea goes from garage passion to full-fledged business — and how philosophy, brand and logistics feed that fledgling idea until it, in turn, feeds a community.

All with one goal. To inspire. With Design.

Design Leader, Advisor, Speaker, Student, Advocate, Enabler.

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