Design Matters

Design Matters

Steve Polo

“Design is the ‘seat of the soul'” – Tom Peters

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

You see the phrase, “Design Matters” with some frequency, and fact – the Power of Design is one of our core values.  We believe that design does matter. Design makes a positive difference in people’s lives.  Some people don’t believe it.  Maybe it’s because they don’t understand design.  Maybe if it’s not life-or-death it can’t be that important.  It occurs to me that we need a definition, so here goes:

Design is the process that takes disparate, ambiguous, sometimes contradictory information and transforms all of that into a useful thing – Design is the transformation of information into a useful thing.

If this definition is true, then EVERYTHING is a design  – every financial plan, every business strategy, every car, every retirement plan, every computer, every software program, every fork, spoon, and knife, every everything is a design!

If you’re still not convinced, here are a couple of designs that really mattered – good and bad.

Good examples:

  • The iPod: everyone’s favorite mp3 player – slick, hip and fun – and it turned Apple around!
  • Apple’s iPhone: defines the smart phone market (See a trend here? Design is in Apple’s DNA)
  • Toyota’s Prius: affordable and environmentally beneficial, and cool – the wave of the future – and one of Toyota’s best sellers!

Not-so-good examples:

  • The Vietnam Peace Talks table: the two sides couldn’t agree about the shape of the table – meanwhile war continued for 6 months while they argued over it!
  • The infamous “butterfly ballot” in the 2002 Presidential Election: it resulted in untold cost and it nearly destroyed the electoral process.

Good designs are everywhere. The paper clip, the Post-IT note, the cell phone, your 401K plan (OK, so not the greatest design), and even the screen and software that you’re using and looking at as you read this are all results of a successful design process.

So, if you agree with Tom Peters and believe that design is the “number one determinant of the success of a product or a service” – make time for a thorough design process the next time you have a problem to solve, need a new idea, or need a method for making your company more competitive.  Because in the end we think you’ll agree – design really does matter.

We’ve got designs on you,

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