In A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World, Daniel Pink sites 6 key areas that will help us master right-brained thinking; Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. I plan on going into each of these, starting with design.
One example given in the book is when school children are asked if they are artist. In first grade, everyone says yes, only a few say yes in third grade, and none by sixth grade. As the education process evolves, we teach our children to focus on left-brain thinking and the creative side is pushed out.
However, the need for good design is growing. I'm a fan of Apple products. I watched yesterday as a colleague opened a new iPod Touch. Even the packaging was well designed. Apple knows that enough people are willing to pay extra for good design to make them successful.
So how does design play into a project manager's life. Do you prepare a lot of PowerPoint presentations? Have you read one of the books on good PowerPoint design such as Presentation Zen or slide:ology? A well designed presentation will go farther in communicating your point than a poorly designed set of slides will.
There are other areas where design can play into your role as a PM. If you're delivering any kind of product, you should be thinking about design. Even if someone else is responsible for that aspect, you should still know what good design is. Even the way you're team's workspace is designed can impact their productivity.