Designing for Growth
June 23, 2011
When we think about design, we might think about talented people making things look and work in an interesting or useful way. But how does design play into situations where our input is needed? What if we manage designers?
Consider a challenge faced by a leading consumer products firm: how to think about and respond to changes in the retail marketplace over the next ten years. Suppose that two student teams - one composed of MBAs and the other of design students - tackle the issue. How might each team approach its study? The MBAs would likely begin by researching trends in the marketplace - social, technological, environmental, and political. They'd read analysts' reports, interview industry experts, and benchmark leading retailers and competitors. They'd produce forecasts and a recommended set of strategies, complete with ROI, and NPV calculations. They'd deliver it all in a PowerPoint presentation. The design students would probably approach the project quite differently. They might begin with a similar trend analysis, but they would use it to develop scenarios of possible futures instead of spreadsheets. They would hang out in stores and talk to shoppers and employees, focusing on the shopping experience. They'd likely create some different customer personas and use the scenarios to try to model the changes in the personas' lives - and, accordingly, in their shopping habits - over the next ten years.Design thinking is a different way to approach common business problems, and it's something both entrepreneurs, managers, and CEOs need to explore, for their own business interests (growth), and for the experience their customers will have with them. This is an eye-opening book that will reveal the action-based approach to design thinking, the series of inaccurate assumptions made in most business thinking, and how to become better at recognizing and strategizing around opportunities that exist within not only our core business, but other avenues as well.