In his recent profile of Steve Jobs and the iPod revolution, the NYT‘s John Markoff makes the following point:
It has become apparent that the way Mr. Jobs designs products has changed fundamentally during his second tour of duty. In creating the iPod, the iTunes Macintosh and Windows software and the iTunes music store, Apple has not just designed products; it has also designed a business system.
I’m a firm believer that a good product design process — one that is user-centric, iterative, and prototype-driven — can also be used to design winning "business systems" like the iPod. The point is to apply a "design" point of view across the activities of the entire venture, rather than just within the product development department. By doing this, you’re much more likely to come up with a business offering which users actually want.