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Formal Introductions: Business Meets Design

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I just read this article at and, while a little simplistic, it does a nice job both describing how business needs to embrace design thinking, and the value of design in business. The author, , lists six tips to help business understand design and incorporate strategy along with the design approach to problem solving:

1. Design strategy is not an oxymoron: Creativity is the key to innovation, strategy is the mirror equivalent for business.

2. The world is upside down, embrace it: Embrace the death of the controlled business model.

3. Invent new training, train thyself: If you understand little about design or creativity, learn more.

4. Understand your DNA: At the core of every go-to-market effort is a strategy based around the DNA of the consumers’ experience.

5. Visualize strategy: Visually map your processes. Designers are visual people.

6. Stop using Powerpoint and start telling stories: Use creativity in your presentations and get it back in spades.

While the article is directed at a more traditional business audience, one that is maybe unsure about how to incorporate design into their strategic approach, there is something here for all of us. In fact, the article pulls together several thoughts that have been expressed here on schneiderism into one cohesive narrative. We all need to understand how our audiences have changed, and how we need to change in order to best communicate our value and engage them as they wish to be engaged. We all need to become massively better at telling stories and move away from reporting. The value for understanding is in the story, in the context within which a situation exists. Reporting delivers a snapshot, and business moves too quickly today to base decisions on snapshots.

Ultimately, what the article describes is a competitive necessity. Design brings a deeper understanding and more substantive connections to our audience, and these are the things that are supporting innovation in business and success in the most competitive of industries… think personal computing, music, automobiles, fashion, publishing… I can keep going. In each case, there are businesses that are still governed by a business model born out of another time, and those that are fast moving, adapting and innovating, constantly reinventing the business model for their industry. My money is on the latter for being around in ten years.

2 Responses to “Formal Introductions: Business Meets Design”

  1. Nick Says:

    I am always a little leary when people start talking about the relationship between design and business. This may be due to my being a designer. The artist in me says, “Business can go take a hike. I’m not going to bend over backwards for anyone who isn’t going to understand what it is that I do anyways.” This is addmitedly a very myopic view of things, but I’m an artist, and artists get to think like that. HOWEVER, I am also a human being living in the real world and understand that this point of view is beneficial to no one.

    Over the past few years I’ve become less inclined to think of Design as a category for things. I don’t see the need to find new ways of bringing Design and Business together, but more of a need to understand how Design and Business are the same. That’s it. Easy. I’m reminded of the scene in “I Heart Huckabees” in which Dustin Hoffman holds up a section of bedsheet and says, “This is you.” He then holds up another section of the same bedsheet and says, “This is the Eiffel Tower.” It’s all part of the same world. Pretending and acting as if Design and Business are two separate entities approaching one another from opposite directions only deepens the gap between them.

  2. John Schneider Says:

    I love that scene. Excellent movie, too.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. However, we live and work in a world where there is a chasm between business and design. Some people get it, some still don’t. Some businesses get it, some never will. The interesting thing is how so many traditionalist businesses (think Wal Mart) are suddenly “discovering” the value of design for their organization, while others figured this out years ago.

    Ultimately, and to your point, we are moving to a reality where they are inextricably linked. Business schools are already integrating design tracks. Design schools are integrating business tracks. Those of us already out in the world know from practice that they are in fact one in the same.

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