This sucks

Posts like this suck. The 'I haven't written in a while, please forgive me, I'll do better' kind. And I have been guilty in the past of indulging in these posts. Heck, I'm even doing it now. It's interesting, right? I feel there's some kind of relationship between me, your faithful writer, and you, my sometimes transactional sometimes faithful audience. And I feel I let you down in not writing. There's expectations and I feel I'm not doing very well. Allow me, to explain why it's been a tad quiet. As per my usual pattern, life has taken over somewhat again, leaving little or no room for things such as reading and writing the blog. After coming back from hols straight into a busy project which is keeping me plenty occupied, my MADS degree starting again, and with people to see and places to go, I'm yet again struggling to keep myself afloat. I haven't got this whole balance thing down yet and I sometimes wonder how other people manage. And then two major changes happened in the last month or so, both of which I want to keep under wraps for now, but which I suspect will both have a big impact on my professional and personal life. Exciting stuff, it's all good and manic. So I just wanted to tell you. I'm still here. And I'll yet again try and make a bit more effort to write if you want to read it. Thanks.

[edited to add: so yes, there are plants that blog more than I do. How embarrassing is that?]

Do you matter, part 2

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This is going to be a bit of a work in progress, I've started reading Do You Matter? (Robert Brunner, Stewart Emery and Russ Hall) and on page 4 was the first quote I wanted to copy and remember. So what I've decided to do is create a post, and then as I'm reading the book add the quotes and thoughts and observations etc to this post. So this'll be a bit of a work in progress. And hit your RSS feed multiple times I think. Apologies for that. But I think this could be an interesting book.

Right, let's get going.
Page 4:
'What to do?
Become brilliant at using design to provide and amazing customer experience. That's what to do. This would be a reason why you care about design.'

Oh, ding, ding, ding. So many people (especially you MBA out there) think design is about taking a product and fixing its bad hair day (I am liberally borrowing this expression from Nick Leon, the director of Design London). Pretty it up a little. Make it look nice. To me, even though I'm still struggling to give a short and coherent definition of design*, this is so short-sighted. Design is about much more than making a product look pretty. It's fundamental to every product and service. Look around you now. Everything you see around you, the computer, the building you're in, the clothes you're wearing, the chair you're sitting in, those are all solutions designed for you. 

And hey presto, on the next page is this:
'We think most people are prone to define design, particularly good design, more narrowly than they should. When you see an iconic product, such as an iPhone, for instance, that enjoys an initial runaway success, it's so easy to overlook the big picture of how the product fits into the company's future – and the the future of similar products in general. We want you to consider a far broader view of the significance of design.' (p 5)

On why one-hit design wonders don't work:
'You can create a good design, do it once, and do it well, and have a nice object. That doesn't mean it will be a great product or a good business. It might be mildly successful, it might win some awards, and it might even get some buzz on the blogs. The difference between a great product and a merely good product, however, is that a great product embodies an idea that people can understand and learn about – an idea that grows in their minds, one they can emotionally engage with.' (p7)

And what exactly design can do, and should do:
'This approach is product design as a total concept – how the product operates, how it sounds, and how it feels. Included in the design is the experience of how you buy it, the experience of what happens when you actually get possession of it and open up the box, how you start to feel and what all this communicates to you. And of course, there is the chain of events through which you became aware of the product. This is part of the design too, what all those touch points meant to you.'  (p 8)

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And here's a very important one:

'Design is everyone's job. Doing good design takes more than good designers. It takes a commitment from everybody in the company – soup to nuts, end to end.' (p 12)

And this is one of the reasons I'm in d-school: 'Developing an awareness of excellent design as the connective tissue that defines and ensures an excellent experience for your customers is a vital key to the future of your business.' (p 21)

So far, so good. I'm liking this. It's a book I could give to my MBA friends and they'd understand it (not that they're dim, but most of them don't have a design background). But here is something odd: 'You might even, as a business person, categorically dislike dealing with designers, but at least develop a love of knowing what the deal about design is.' (p 21). Huh? What? No way. Let me read that again. '… categorically dislike dealing with designers…'. Yep, it really said that. Why on earth would they say that? That just confirms stereotypes from both ways: that business people can't understand and appreciate designers, and that designers are hopeless to work with. Neither of which in my opinion and experience is true.

But fortunately, there's some good stuff after this:

'It [design] can't be a veneer. Design is not an event or a process you apply to a physical and mechanical reality. You are designing a customer experience supply chain. If you are the CEO and this is something you really want to do, it's not just a matter of getting together your executive staff and saying "Go design some good stuff." You have to look at your business from beginning to end and see how it all relates to your customer; then you must decide how you will design all the pieces of a customer experience solar system and go about accomplishing true organizational change.' (p 46)

Slight cringe about the business-bullshit-bingo words: customer experience supply chain. But other than that, a good point.

* and I also don't have a good definition of brand, or of love. Must work on that.