Designing by influence

The current issue of Fast Company has a great article about the way HP’s corporate design group influences the rest of the organization.  I found the article fascinating — it’s a great example of designing for business.

It’s also a good example of why there’s no silver bullet when it comes to getting an organization to integrate the design process in to the way it goes to market.  I love most of Apple’s products, but I also realize that the way it goes about innovating — a centralized, low-variance, top-down approach — isn’t the answer for every organization.  With HP, for example, you have a decentralized company where the leaders of individual business units are very powerful.  A centralized innovation model based on power wouldn’t work well there.  As the article shows, what does seem to be working at HP is an approach based on influence, as well as on showing the distributed decision makers what could happen.  It’s all about looking hard at the constituent parts that make up a culture — people, resources, processes and values — and then structuring a congruent approach.  Good stuff.