The blog for 1-800-CEO-READ, the excellent website devoted to business books, posted last week about Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie. They lay out the relevance of design thinking for business managers, especially in product development or people management.
Here’s the scenario they use from the book to show how anyone in management can benefit from design thinking:
Now, you might be thinking, “This isn’t for me. I’m in business, not design.” Here’s a scenario the authors pose to give you a clearer idea of the relevance of this book to your work:
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.
If you want to read more we are offering a chapter for free through CUPOLA, our new program that offers ebook sales on a chapter by chapter basis.