Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Design thinking

In idle times I enjoy clicking through my favorite blogs' recommended sites. It's a terrific filter (or intuitive blog search) to piggyback those you admire. The guys at Freakonomics get it: Their site is rich with comrade blogs, though it is a challenge to find compelling creativity/entrepreneurship/innovation sites.

Freaking along tonight, I unearthed a post from Bruce Nussbaum: CEOs Must Be Designers, Not Just Hire Them.

Its premise: Old-school economics and management theory (efficiency, operational excellence, outsource 'til you're purple in the face, pump up the testosterone and replicate pennies) are antes. True differentiation and progress and profitability and sustainability -- resting in the lap of CEOs -- is attributable to design.

C'mon. Design? Nussbaum speaks:

CEOs and managers must know Design Thinking to do their jobs. CEOs must be designers and use their methodologies to actually run companies. Let me be even more precise. Design Thinking is the new Management Methodology.
Bravo. He opines we're transitioning from being leaders of thought to curators of conversations (reminds me of Cluetrain: Markets are conversations). Nussbaum continues:
Design is so popular today mostly because business sees design as connecting it to the consumer populace in a deep, fundamental and honest way. An honest way. If you are in the myth-making business, you don’t need design. You need a great ad agency. But if you are in the authenticity and integrity business then you have to think design. If you are in the co-creation business today—and you’d better be in this age of social networking—then you have to think of design. Indeed, your brand is increasingly shaped and defined by network communities, not your ad agency. Brand manager? Forget about it. Brand curator maybe.
Nussbaum expands, referencing two of my favorites thinkers (and authors): Peter Drucker and Bill McDonough. (BTW, can't wait to see, hear and perhaps meet the latter next week at GoingGreen.)

He heaps praise on McDonough's Cradle to Cradle (I feel guilty having just started it; it's a valuable read), and sets the table for his knock-out point with a Druckeronian reference:
Then there is Design as Peter Drucker or Design as Management Methodology. Design is popular today also because Design Thinking—the methodology of design taken out of the small industrial design context and applied to business and social process—is spreading fast. Hate me if you will, but I am a believer in Design Thinking. In the world of business, there is no value proposition left for most companies in controlling costs or even quality. All that outsourcing has leveled this playing field. Cost and quality are commoditized today, merely the price of entry to the competitive game. Design and design thinking—or innovation if you like--are the fresh, new variables that can bring advantage and fat profit margins to global corporations. In today’s global marketplace, being able to understand the consumer, prototype possible new products, services and experiences, quickly filter the good, the bad and the ugly and deliver them to people who want them—well, that is an attractive management methodology. Beats the heck out of squeezing yet one more penny out of your Chinese supply-chain, doesn’t it?
My inspiration for creating this site a few months ago was threefold: communicate (to whomever's listening), complain (about staid, brain-dead, it is what it is business practices), and connect (thoughts and theories and pundits and pros). All entrepreneurship is art; great entrepreneurship is a special form of art, one of the last (the last?) bastions where you can wave your creative wand and, if you succeed, make a few bucks. Yahoo.

No comments: