Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The emperor's new jargon, 4 Mar. 2013
This review is from: 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization (Paperback)
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I picked up a copy of this booking mistakenly thinking it was about design.

I don't blame myself for this error, because from the back-cover blurb quoted on Amazon, one might be forgiven for thinking it was about any topic, really: "Design thinking is a mindset and method that can be applied to nearly any innovation challenge or endeavor."

What it actually is is a guide to help businesses become more "innovative". As the preface states "as firms like Apple and Google top the headlines...every meeting room is awash with the term 'innovation'." I guess I'm not really the right audience for this book, because from the start, I question its basic premise that businesses should constantly try to create new needs for their customers.

Mostly, however, the book seems to consist of some basic common sense about how to organise one's thinking clearly (seeing the bigger picture, building domain knowledge, research techniques, knowing one's audience) firmly embedded in a load of obfuscating and fancy jargon (helpfully capitalised to help you identify it). For example, technique 1.2 is a "Popular Media Scan". The jist of it is identify topics in the media related to your project, then do some research around them and summarise your findings, presumably to present to others. If I was given this advice in a training seminar, I'd feel patronised, because background research is surely the starting point for any kind of project. This feels like primary school stuff.

A lot of these methods seem to be virtually identical, but given slightly different names to fit with several different "mindsets" the author identifies. Frankly, I couldn't see any important difference between a "Popular Media Scan" and the "Popular Media Search" given later on, except that the latter is slightly more in-depth. Many of the methods presented seem to require quite a lot of steps, like filling in complicated matrices, or diagramming things in very detailed and specific ways. Personally, I find methods like that limiting when sifting through ideas, because the chances of any project fitting their quite detailed specifications is relatively small.

There are also many exercises that will be well-known to anyone who's sat through training seminars, such as the SWOT analysis. Again, maybe this is useful to some people, but it's kind of such an obvious process that it doesn't really deserve a name. It's just what you DO when you're thinking through an idea and trying to decide whether it is worth pursuing. Every time I've been on some kind of enforced training day, these techniques get wheeled out and people end up talking about how bored and patronised they feel and drawing spunking cocks on the worksheets.

I can see books like this being immensely popular with businesses, however, because many of the techniques generate loads of writing on post-its stuck to walls and with that the feeling that something is getting done (I don't think I'm the only person who gets nothing from activities like that). I can see it being popular with business consultants, because people don't like to pay good money for things they think are obvious.
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Reviewer

J. Charlesworth
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Lewes, E. Sussex United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 11,607