Design Thinking in business

How far has the economic case for design come?

Your business case for investing in design will include both qualitative and quantitative evidence. This blog focuses on the economics of innovation so we won’t spend to much time on qualitative arguments like case studies, war stories and theoretical arguments. Instead the focus is on ways that you can make a compelling financial and economic business case for design.

Design Thinking in business
The business value of design thinking is being more and more widely recognised.

That said, you’ll still need to balance both by including examples along with your analysis and there’s a great post from back in 2007 by Brian Gillespie who had just attended the DMI Conference “Improving and Measuring Design’s Role in Business Performance“ which cried out for more case studies and more qualitative examples. In short, he wanted to see more effort put into articulating the role of design in:

  • Influence on the purchasing decisions
  • Enabling strategy (new markets)
  • Enabling product and service innovation
  • Reputation/awareness/brand value
  • Time to market/process improvement
  • Customer experiences
  • Cost savings/ROI
  • Developing communities of customers
  • Good design is good for all: triple bottom line accounting for social, environmental, and business impact

Since 2007 a lot of evidence has emerged on each of these and we’ll be reviewing them in turn over the next couple of weeks and including a few new areas where design can add value. Paste any of your favorite micro-examples of end user centred design and design thinking adding practical economic value in the comments below and we’ll include them as we go.

2 thoughts on “How far has the economic case for design come?”

  1. “We won’t spend to much time on qualitative arguments for design” –> This is just STUPID. Every successful innovative design, from a spoon to the management of a global company, has its roots in a profound understanding of its customer, and these roots are based in deep qualitative bases.

    If you believe that understanding these arguments, which are rich discussions of what your consumer really wants, are a waste of time, you’re completely lost and out of focus. I can’t believe that someone who recommends ‘The Ten Faces of Innovations’ can have an opinion like this.

  2. Gonzalo, good point that great design is based on deep customer insights (often from qualitative tools). Also a good point that a rich discussion of customer needs is a great way to promote innovation.

    This blog is really for those who already embrace creative thinking and now need to convince those that don’t. I focus on quantitative ways of doing this because there are still CEOs, accountants, lawyers and CFOs out there who will only take action if they can see the numbers to support your ideas.

    The opportunity in all of this is to integrate both creative thinking and analytical thinking together into a whole. Dan Pink has been doing some great thinking on this for quite some time: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.02/brain.html

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