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14 SEPTEMBER 2015

Design for Action: designing the immaterial artefact

"Throughout most of history, design was a process applied to physical objects. Raymond Loewy designed trains. Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses. Charles Eames designed furniture. Coco Chanel designed haute couture. Paul Rand designed logos. David Kelley designed products, including (most famously) the mouse for the Apple computer.

But as it became clear that smart, effective design was behind the success of many commercial goods, companies began employing it in more and more contexts. High-tech firms that hired designers to work on hardware (to, say, come up with the shape and layout of a smartphone) began asking them to create the look and feel of user-interface software. Then designers were asked to help improve user experiences. Soon firms were treating corporate strategy making as an exercise in design. Today design is even applied to helping multiple stakeholders and organizations work better as a system.

This is the classic path of intellectual progress. Each design process is more complicated and sophisticated than the one before it. Each was enabled by learning from the preceding stage. Designers could easily turn their minds to graphical user interfaces for software because they had experience designing the hardware on which the applications would run. Having crafted better experiences for computer users, designers could readily take on nondigital experiences, like patients' hospital visits. And once they learned how to redesign the user experience in a single organization, they were more prepared to tackle the holistic experience in a system of organizations."

(Tim Brown and Roger Martin, 2015, Harvard Business Review)

A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue (pp.56–64) of Harvard Business Review.

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TAGS

Bill BuxtonCharles EamesCoco Chanelcomplex systems • David Kelley • design history • design intervention • design processdesign thinking • design-oriented approach • design-oriented thinkingdesigned artefactethnographic design approachFrank Lloyd Wright • genuinely innovative strategies • graphical user interfaceHarvard Business ReviewHerbert Simon • holistic user experience • IDEOimmateriality • intervention design • iPoditerative prototyping • iterative rapid-cycle prototyping • iTunes Store • Jeff Hawkins • look and feellow-fidelity prototype • low-resolution prototype • nondigital experiences • PalmPilot • Paul Randpersonal digital assistantphysical objectsrapid prototyping • Raymond Loewy • redesignRichard Buchananrole of the designerservice designuser experienceuser experience design (UX)user feedbackuser interface designwicked problems

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 MARCH 2013

Younger Workers Need a Career Narrative

"In recent years, much has been written about the importance of career narratives for mid–career and senior professionals, particularly those making a career transition. But, we'd argue, they're even more important for younger professionals who don't yet have a multipage CV or a high–powered headhunter in their corner. What, then, makes for an effective narrative?

First, it should be easy to remember and retell. The whole point is to give your colleagues a narrative that quickly comes to mind whenever they're asked about you, preventing them from making assumptions and drawing conclusions on their own. Two or four sentences, maximum.

Second, it should meaningfully link your past successes to your near and long–term development needs and suggest the kinds of assignments that would help to achieve those objectives. Those goals might certainly be developmental (to test a particular skill; gain experience with a certain tool or methodology; explore a specific industry). But they can also be more personal (limit travel to spend time with family, for instance).Think of it as a 'sound–bite resume' – on hearing it, senior professionals should have two reactions. First, they should be interested in working with you. Second, they should know if it makes sense for you to work with them.

Third, your narrative needs to hang together with the right combination of honesty, humility, and personal flavor. Doing so creates an authentic and compelling career narrative. Narratives that just articulate a string of successes are not credible and are not likely to be repeated. Similarly, boilerplate chronicles without any personal flair rarely get traction."

(Heidi K. Gardner and Adam Zalisk, 15 February 2013, Harvard Business Review)

TAGS

careercareer developmentcareer journeycareer narrativecareer pathcareer planningcareer progressioncareer story • career transition • curriculum vitae • CV • Harvard Business Reviewhuman resourcesleadershiplearning journeynarrative accountorganisational behaviourorganisational capabilities • organisational development • organisational productivitypersonal knowledge mappingpersonal satisfactionprofessional developmentprofessional skillsresume • senior professionals • sound-bite resume • strategysuccesstailored curriculumtailoring curriculumworkplace • younger professionals

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
24 APRIL 2009

Design Thinking: a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centred design ethos

"Design thinking is ... a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity. Like [Thomas] Edison's painstaking innovation process, it often entails a great deal of perspiration. ...

Historically, design has been treated as a downstream step in the development process – the point where designers, who have played no earlier role in the substantive work of innovation, come along and put a beautiful wrapper around the idea. To be sure, this approach has stimulated market growth in many areas by making new products and technologies aesthetically attractive and therefore more desirable to consumers or by enhancing brand perception through smart, evocative advertising and communication strategies. During the latter half of the twentieth century design became an increasingly valuable competitive asset in, for example, the consumer electronics, automotive, and consumer packaged goods industries. But in most others it remained a late–stage add–on.

Now, however, rather than asking designers to make an already developed idea more attractive to consumers, companies are asking them to create ideas that better meet consumers' needs and desires. The former role is tactical, and results in limited value creation; the latter is strategic, and leads to dramatic new forms of value."

(Tim Brown, 2008, Harvard Business Review)

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TAGS

2008 • aesthetically attractive • applied researchbest practicebrand perceptionbusiness machine • business savvy • business sense • business world • communication strategiescompetitive advantageconsumer desireconsumer electronics • consumer packaged goods • consumerscreativity • customer value • design ideasdesign methodologydesign methodsdesign thinkingdesigners • designers sensibility • development process • dictation • direct observationdiscovery through design • discrete device • electric light bulb • electric power generation • electric power transmission • envisionevocative advertisingexperimental investigationgeneralistgenius • gifted tinkerers • Harvard Business Reviewhuman-centred designhumanisation of technologyIDEOimprovisationinnovation • innovation activities • innovation processintegrationinventioninventoriterative designlightbulblone genius • market growth • market opportunity • marketplace • Menlo Park • needs and desires • new forms of value • new productsnew technologies • parlour trick • phonograph • prescient • product differentiation • products are made • products are marketed • products are packaged • products are sold • products are supported • recording dictation • replaying dictation • research and development • research and development laboratory • strategic thinking • substantive work of innovation • team-based approach • technologically feasible • Thomas Edison • trial and error • twentieth century • viable business strategy • what people want

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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