Think Like a Designer
Imagine you need a lawyer to help you sell your house. Unsure where to start, you’d probably check out a few websites offering conveyancing services. They all seem to offer similar services to a competent standard, but you get a very different feeling about each company from the experience of using their websites. Some are crammed with jargon-filled text and poor quality images with information that’s both hard to find and understand, while others seem to have had time and money invested in the design and the words. Which would you put on your shortlist?
The truth, people are attracted to well-designed things, valuing them more than poorly designed ones. But, as Steve Jobs clearly understood, design is about more than how something looks. It’s even about more than how something works. Design (with a capital ‘D’) is as much about a process as it is about a product. It’s a way of thinking and working; importantly it’s an attitude that says, ‘how can we make this thing the best it can be?’
Market leading businesses have seen the value of what we’ve referred to throughout this book as ‘design thinking’, and of changing their organisation by first reimagining the products and services they should deliver and then reorganising with the goal to deliver them, what we call ‘design-led change’. Business and Management schools have for at least the last decade been studying designers and their approaches, and incorporating them into approaches to running businesses. In an interview in 2017, Matt Candy as Vice President of IBM iX told the UK Design Council, “Design thinking is the science of the 21st century so using that approach for problem-solving is the way in which businesses will reinvent themselves”.
In the book, The Design of Business, Roger Martin (formally the Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto) points out that although the design process and design thinking isn’t right for every problem a business faces, “when your challenge is to create value or seize an emerging opportunity, the solution is to perform like a design team: Work iteratively, build a prototype, elicit feedback, refine it, and repeat. Give yourself a chance to uncover problems and fix them in real time, as the process unfolds”.
We’ve titled chapter 13, Think like a Designer, because we, your authors, are Designers. What we have in common is that we’re Design School graduates, which gives us specific training and experience in combining arts and engineering. And it’s our belief, the founding belief of Engine in fact, that trained Designers have something to offer beyond the roles traditionally given to designers within many of the organisations we work with. We use a capital ‘D’ when we talk about Designers who went to Design school, but the good news is you don’t have to go back to college to think like a Designer.
You may have some design-school trained designers in your organisation. You may have departments full of them. They may be digital designers, graphic designers, interior designers or product designers by training. It’s most likely they’re employed to give form, colour, and structure to things your customers come into contact with. But whatever their role, we’re sure some of these Designers will be wired in ways that mean they can contribute more strategically to the success of your business.