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Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage Hardcover – 1 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422177807
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422177808
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Elegant survey of why design thinking shouldn't be considered some soft thing that's nice for business at the edges but not necessary at the core.
--Sloan Management Review, 01 September 2009

Want to seal your business's success? Find the Algorithm that sits at its core.
--Irish Times, 16 November 2009

For readers interested in design and translating innovations, there are some interesting ideas on how this is done. --Financial Times, 15 October 2009

In turbulent times executives need to adopt "design thinking". One of the main proponents of this approach is Roger Martin. --The Independent, May 26, 2010

About the Author

Roger Martin is dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He was appointed to a seven-year term beginning in September 1998 and re-appointed to a further five-year term effective July 2005. He is also a professor of strategic management at the Rotman School.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Olly Buxton on 3 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a short book with some big, and very good, ideas. The problem is, it could have still been shorter - the concept I felt I'd got from the first chapter, and very little is done with it. This is partly because the idea is self-explanatory, and it's either something you'll instinctively take to (if you're disposed to "design thinking"), or won't.

The thesis, broadly stated, is this: there are three main "phases" any business proposition:

* "mystery" : when an intuition nags at an inventor: the germ of a problem (and more to the point its solution) suggests itself and there is no orthodox means for solving it - here is the maximum opportunity for those who can (think of a young Ray Kroc (later of MacDonald's) thinking "how do I build scale in my hamburger joint?");

* "heuristic": when you've figured out a potential solution that does the job, but you don't necessarily understand the full implications and possibilities and boundaries of the solution; and

* "algorithm": where both the problem/opportunity and the solution are fully understood, and the solution has been - or can be - maximally commoditised and automated: the only question is efficiency.

Roger Martin's presentation is a convincing as far as it goes: I dare say the boundaries between the three phases are porous, and Martin is convincing that there is a reflexive quality to the propositions: the more they are solved, and the more the richness of an offering is stripped to its essential superstructure, the lower the barriers to competition, the slimmer the margins, and the more compelling the need to look for other mysteries.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Lentsch on 15 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book makes for a disappointing read. There is nothing new to be found in here - Martin merely echoes what others have said before him, only less originally so, and presents a very watered down, shallow definition of 'Design Thinking'. The book seems to consist entirely of a few Harvard Business School cases (Apple? What a surprise. RIM? Doesn't seem to do that well these days...) and some quotes of Design gurus, like David Kelley of IDEO. The one interesting story is how P&G implemented Design Thinking, a huge project where Martin was involved personally, but that is just not enough meat to make a whole book out of it.

For anyone interested in an introduction to Design Thinking I would rather recommend Tom Kelley's "The Art of Innovation", even if it is not up to date in terms of products. Why pay for a knockoff if you can have the original.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Caufrier Frederic on 9 July 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'The Design of Business' will give you a good basic overview on why design thinking is the next competitive advantage. It covers the fine balancing act between validity and reliability, or combining intuitive thinking with analytical thinking to get design thinking.

The concept 'design thinking' is not a new concept actually but it is here nicely introduced with all its benefits together with powerful business cases to illustrate the importance: P&G's "Connect + Develop", Herman Miller, Target, IDEO, RIM, Cirque du Soleil, and many others.

For the moment analytical thinking still runs the corporations so there is indeed some window for improvement on the level of business thinking, innovation, decision making and strategy. In this respect the author is convincing towards the reader to stimulate his/her thinking skills towards design thinking.

There is a little bit of focus on recruiting Masters of Fine Arts graduates into the business, although it has been overlooked by the author that there are already many design thinkers out there in business.

'The Design of Business' is a great and easy read with an important message towards all industries and a very important message for innovative approaches.

The Design of Business
1 The Knowledge Funnel - How discovery takes shape
2 The Reliability Bias - Why advancing knowledge is so hard
3 Design Thinking - How thinking like a designer can create sustainable advantage
4 Transforming the corporation - The design of Procter & Gamble
5 The Balancing Act - How design-thinking organizations embrace reliability and validity
6 World-Class Explorers - Leading the design-thinking organization
7 Getting personal - Developing yourself as a design thinker
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marc Munier on 16 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading a blog post by the Author entitled "Why good spreadsheets make bad decisions", I was having a particularly Excel intensive moment and so the post appealed!

I was expecting a one sided view with plenty of suggestions about trusting judgement over data, in the same vein as Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking But that isn't what this book is about.

The book is packed full of examples from P&G, to Herman Miller(the author being directly involved with all) which give great context to the theories discussed. The main focus is moving business processes down the "knowledge funnel", this sounds a little dull but trust me it's the key building a scalable business.

McDonalds not somewhere I would chose to eat, however they have refined every single process from flipping a burger to choosing the next location to open a franchise. This means that they are able to be extremely efficient at scaling, the issue is that when the market dynamic changes they are ill equipped to deal with it.

At the other end of the scale you might have a small sandwich shop, every customer feels special, the staff knows their order and if one day everyone wants a chicken sandwich they can get more in the next day while they cancel the order of bacon, but the sandwich shop can't scale, everything is made to order.

The design thinker is able to strike the right balance between these two, what to systematise and what to leave to best judgement.

If you and your organisation can get this right I have to agree with the title - you will have the competitive advantage.
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