Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do you matter? How great design will make people love your company.

Citrix, the company where I work, has been organising a Tech Day for the R&D division where we choose one key topic and update the teams around the world building the agenda around the same. This year's key topic was 'Design' and the book was given out to the attendees.

The book encourages you to think about incorporating Design into the very fabric or DNA of the organisation. In most of the organisations, Design is considered as a good-to-have part of the product or service rather than a must-have and the book emphasises that organisations that consider Design to be an integral part of their strategy are the ones that matter to the customers. It was an interesting thought and the authors have done a good job of expounding on the concept.

When we think of what makes us really love a company or a product we don't usually think of the design aspect, rather the thought goes to the people, the processes and the experience. In the book, Robert Brunner and Stewart Emery talk about the fact that it is the design experience that makes us love the company - think of Apple, think of IKEA, think of Samsung, think of GoodGrip products. In the same breath think of the times when you have not had a good experience with an organisation or a product and you realise that its probably because the product was not designed properly or did not meet with your expectations. The most obvious part of the book is the fact that Design is not just about product but about processes as well. As you read the book you will go back to your experiences and start relating the good or bad parts of the experience with the design parameters.

A most obvious choice when you talk about design excellence is Apple. Apple products are loved across the world and have a fan following. It does not make a difference if the product does not have all the cutting-edge features - it still commands a premium and a line-at-midnight. Robert and Stewart take us behind the scenes on some as-yet-unknown aspects of how the design came to be and how that contributes to the immense popularity of the brand. Its interesting to read these nuggets and understand how you relate to these design excellence bits.

The authors have built a great story in the book as it takes you from an understanding of why design is of paramount importance to how do you incorporate it into your DNA. My only grouse against the book is that it only concentrates to a large extent on product companies and does not give insights into how a services company can get Design incorporated into its DNA. While the principles are sound and are all there, it is difficult to take the product design experience and translate that to a services or a software company for excellence. After all product is a tangible thing where the design changes can be touched, felt and sensed while for a services or software company its about experience.

Having said that the book will teach you on how Design as a core factor in your strategy will create a visible impact on your bottom line. In a way the Design aspect shines through in the book itself as it creates a story with enough and more examples along the way to help you understand the concept. From why Design is of paramount importance and is a must-have part of your strategy to How does it make a difference to the customer's perception, from how you can ensure that the entire organisation takes Design seriously to why the product design is a portal to your customer's experience of your company and how that makes a long term impact and finally it gives great insight on how to build a design-driven culture.

The most important chapter of the book is the last one where the authors espouse on the steps to become a Design Oriented company through FLAVOR - Focus, Long-Term, Authentic, Vigilant, Original & Repeatable. Each of these is a great segment on how to start the journey and continue on it. Needless to say, Design is a journey and not a destination!

I would encourage everyone to read this book and try to imbibe aspects of FLAVOR. I would rate the book 3/5 only because it focuses heavily on product rather than services of software!

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