Start with a look at Apple's product design evolution.
Then visit Core 77, and read about how to define the word "design."
The short version:
Good designers share these intangible skills, useful for cross-functional teams:
1. Interpretation: Many designers are multi-lingual in different fields, they are fluent in consumer trends, marketing, manufacturing, and technology.
2. Tangibility: Many firms are plagued by 'smart talkers' who sound good in meetings, but get bogged down in abstract complexities. Designers are good at 'making it real.'
3. Synthesis: Not only do designers specialize in being generalists, they tend to be good at making new connections, pulling together threads from different fields and integrating them into a new whole.
4. Resolution: Good designers are smart at turning knowledge into action—they solve problems, resolve tensions, draw tangible and practical conclusions, and hit deadlines. Designers (and copy editors, I might add) live by real world limits.
Advice, for designers and all:
1. Adopt an agile perspective
2. Spot gaps
3. Make new connections
4. Teach yourself
5. Expand the industry.
"There is no one future waiting to happen," Gary Hamel said, "the future is something you create, not something that happens to you."