Inward and outward business design

21st August 2015

Design is important in business, this is the considered and consistent view at Rokker HQ however this summation is not evident across our industry and that puzzles us.

 

Design may seem a strange topic of conversation for a management consulting company to have, but this design-led thinking is at the heart of our approach to solving business challenges and truthfully the way something ‘feels’ is half the challenge in selling it, getting buy-in or creating value; so we consider this to be a crucial part of the programme engagement.

 

Design and industry has had a long symbiotic relationship. In the early 20th Century the Bauhaus Movement strived to resolve the increasing soullessness of industry by reconnecting creativity and manufacturing to produce things that were optimal, successful and beautiful. Indeed their approach of multi-disciplinary teachings to create students who had both practical and theoretical knowledge in order to bring different schools of thought to design problems was revolutionary at the time but still totally relevant for today. Also interesting was their idea of using modern manufacturing techniques paired with an agreed design ethos of ‘sustainability, affordability, simplicity and desirability’, it cannot be just me who thinks this is also a good basis of a business plan for any modern company.

 

We usually think of design in the modern business environment as customer-centric or outward-facing; whether it is product or services, experience design or good old fashioned sales activity, design is applied to the things we provide the outside world. There is a good argument however for a more inward facing application of design thinking. One of the things the design process is best at solving is engagement; we all know by designing something that not only solves a problem but also does this with style and an aesthetic and ergonomic beauty results in a better performing product, both financially and creatively. Why not apply the same engagement techniques to internal corporate development programmes, aligning individuals and teams with something that is financially successful, organisationally streamlined and creatively enjoyable all via the process of design.

 

In the application of design for business a multi-disciplinary team is also important, design is also about context and viewpoint and when it comes to business or programme strategy a single viewpoint rarely achieves the optimal solution. The old adage “If you think as you have always thought you will be as you have always been” holds true here and design is a perfect way of sparking creativity which drives innovation in the context of the challenge ahead.

 

Finally we come to brand, the way a product or business resonates with an audience and distinguishes itself from the competition. The branding process is well trodden ground for the outward facing elements of the business, and in some cases the culture is driven internally by the brand, however we can go further. Why not apply a branding process to a programme of work not just the product or service outcome; why not define how old the programme feels, what car it drives and whether its aspirational or commoditised, all with the purpose of aligning the team on the speed, style and values of the programme, creating a sense of ownership and giving the project a life during the process.

 

Design is important in business, maybe we can all now agree on that.

 

Andy Rogers
Founder and Managing Partner