How Design Oriented Companies Really Work

How Design Oriented Companies Really Work

Whenever I get into a conversation about companies are starting to adopt design as a core part of their business the discussion eventually gravitates to companies the average person would say are good examples of design oriented companies.

While I agree that companies like Apple, Zappos, and BMW have adopted elements you need to be design oriented, it not for the reason a lot of people think.   It’s not because of their ability to create attractive products or a culture that creates raving fans.

Those things are superficial.  Focusing on these elements leads companies to believe that they can achieve the same level of success by “adding on” or “copying” those elements.

It got me thinking about how I could illustrate how we should think about this.

Circle and the square

In the end, the square learns that people aren’t fooled if your “design” (or culture for that matter) is merely a facade or marketing ploy.

Companies that continue to suffer from this type of failure to imagine will only see design as the “creative” activity that happens when all the “important stuff” is done. For them, it will seem easier to try and replicate existing ideas of success or beauty instead of planting the seeds for the ideas of the future.

Yes, it does feel good to be the creator of timeless beauty, but it won’t be nearly enough if you don’t view design as an activity that affects an organization as a whole. Beauty can’t skin deep if you want to matter or continue to matter.

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