Co-founder & CTO at FX Hedge Pool | Technology entrepreneur.
Design plays a crucial role in shaping the world we live in, from the objects that surround us to the services we consume on a daily basis.
With increasing competition for mindshare, design is often a crucial differentiator in elevating a product or service from an otherwise crowded marketplace. It’s no wonder so many companies are turning to design in their ongoing quest for relevance and growth. Some companies have even created the position of director of design, an influential C-suite position that Jony Ive, Apple’s legendary industrial designer, once held.
However, design and creativity do not always mesh with traditional business doctrine. The unpredictable discovery process that precedes breakthrough design is full of trial and error, which may seem pointless rather than a byproduct of healthy experimentation. Companies with this mindset often treat design as an afterthought, applying only a last-minute veneer to an essentially complete product, shortening an otherwise fruitful process.
Seriously embracing design, on the other hand, can shape an entire company, not just a single product. This holistic approach goes beyond cosmetic features to influence every aspect of a business, evoking a deep emotional connection and establishing strong brand loyalty.
For example, consider how Apple crafted a polished end-to-end experience that exudes quality and desirability: inviting brick-and-mortar stores that respect local sensibilities, sleek packaging that has become synonymous with the Cupertino giant, and seamless interoperability between its devices that delight a wide audience. users. Indeed, design has been crucial in helping Apple climb and stay on top of a fiercely competitive global market.
Embedding design into every part of a business can be a hugely powerful differentiator. However, making it work requires the right corporate culture, talent, tools, techniques, and guiding principles. Here are three tips to get started.
1. Build design capability.
While most people tend to have an opinion on design, only some have the training or inclination to be professional designers. An experienced practitioner will use tools, techniques, and guiding principles to drive the process. Invest in a design capability if you’re serious about function; it’s no different from having a finance or engineering team.
Besides direct hiring or outsourcing, engaging a consulting firm is another way to jump-start your design efforts. This approach can help inject know-how into your organization while giving you time to develop your internal capabilities. If you go this route, push for a fixed-cost work statement commitment as well as a plan to reduce consultant involvement as you build your own team.
2. Cultivate a design culture.
A design-friendly culture values design as a critical driver of business success and embeds the process into all aspects of the organization. Focus on the following areas to cultivate the right culture:
• Seek buy-in from leaders by helping them see the value of design and get their commitment to integrate it into decision-making at all levels.
• Empower designers by giving them authority and tools for user research, prototyping and testing.
• Encourage cross-functional collaboration between designers and other teams, such as product managers, developers, and marketing.
• Create a safe space for experimentation by accepting failure as a hallmark of the road to meaningful breakthroughs.
• Create a positive and supportive environment by celebrating individuals throughout the organization who contribute to successful design results.
3. Be patient.
Design is often a long process of creatively and systematically solving complex problems. It involves showing deep empathy for users, carefully defining a problem, proposing potential solutions, prototyping and testing. Therefore, it is important to remember that design is not a faucet you turn on to see immediate results. It takes time for the process to become part of your culture and produce the desired results.
Ultimately, design is a form of expression your business can use to convey ideas, emotions, and vision. Good design can help attract customers and build brand loyalty, which translates into a strong competitive advantage in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
As Tom Watson Jr., IBM’s second president, said, “Good design is good business.”
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