Marketing and design a very different mindsets and professions. I’m guessing that both your company’s marketing and your design probably sucks. But then again so does everyone else’s. It’s been driven to blandness by a combination of focus groups that couldn’t “get” your new idea, repeated changes from your management team, internal squabbles and old ideas left over from a time when advertising spend equalled market success. But maybe there is an even deeper problem…
The difference between marketing and design isn’t obvious. They’re different professional disciplines but the real difference is in the mindsets that they bring to approaching a problem.
Powerpoint is a dangerous tool. Nevertheless, it’s useful to see how the top design and innovation firms describe what they do. Below are examples of how these design and innovation firms present to a general business audience. A couple of them were made for specific events so don’t get too distracted by the detail.
You can certainly take your time with them but the goal is to absorb an overall picture of what would work for yourself to use as a tool in describing your own work to your CEO, CFO, engineers and even the marketing team.
Each of these presentations is a different take on the core issue of how we describe end-user centred design, design processes and design thinking to a business audience. Which do you feel are the best and worst?
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.
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
Time to market/process improvement
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.
This post analyses the business case for design using the fundamentals of micro-economics and financial accounting.
Let’s run through how you (as a product development professional) can use the language of economics and finance to articulate the return on investment of design expenditure. In particular, in the areas of brand, product and process. You can also look at how to articulate the business wide impact of incorporatingdesign thinking into your company’s vision,culture and strategy.
We can use a USD$100,000 engagement with an external product design and innovation firm as an example. The aim of this project will be to develop a product that anticipates latent needs, delights end-users and delivers an integrated holistic experience. However before you or your external product designers get to any of that you’ll need to get past your CEO, senior management team, CFO and their corporate finance team. We’ll address the CEO first.
Economic returns from investing in design
The key levers available to your firm’s senior management include the price, quantity, variable costs and fixed costs of your business. To convince the CEO and senior management team of the benefit of the project you’ll want to address the real life impact of the project in each of these areas. You will need to convince them that with the aid of a disciplined approach to NPD and an empathetic approach to design, your project will create a product that:
Commands a higher price because it is differentiated from your competition.
Sells a higher quantity because it provides more utility to the customer.
Can be produced with lower variable cost.
Is designed to allow for lower fixed costs.
Each of these economic levers contributes to the ultimate goal of your CEO which is usually some variation on creating a sustained and differentiated high margin revenue stream.
You will need to have command of the above financial terms and be able to structure your business case accordingly. The attention span of senior management teams is shortening and a good summary (in terms they understand) is important.
The internal finance team will have their own requirements for your project so speaking their language can help increase you chances of getting a project approved.