Venture Design, part 7

In an effort to resuscitate a riff about venture design that I wrote about a few months ago, I’m going to point you (and myself) to this nice Bill Breen Fast Company piece about design thinking, Roger Martin, and the Stanford  Here are two paragraphs I particularly like:

The trouble is, when confronted with a mystery, most linear
business types resort to what they know best: They crunch the numbers,
analyze, and ultimately redefine the problem "so it isn’t a mystery
anymore; it’s something they’ve done 12 times before," Martin says.
Most don’t avail themselves of the designer’s tools — they don’t think
like designers — and so they are ill-prepared for an economy where the
winners are determined by design.


Organizations that embrace a design-based strategy also employ the
practice of rapid prototyping. Whereas conventional companies won’t
bring a product to market until it’s "just right," the design shop is
unafraid to move when the product is unfinished but "good enough."
Designers learn by doing: They identify weaknesses and make midflight
corrections along the way.

The subtlety here is that "design shops" don’t typically ship products, they only create them.  The trick is to create a culture within a product organization that is willing and able to ship products that are only "good enough", as this is the enlightened path to creating products that are "wow".  I think this may require having design thinkers working across every discipline in the organization — finance, marketing, sales, service, manufacturing, engineering, etc…  one needs to design a venture that can only be staffed with design thinkers.  I’ll be revisiting this topic as I get into Dan Pink’s new book.  Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “Venture Design, part 7

  1. Diego — that’s a great article and an interesting post.
    Some recent experience with teaching product development to the “linear business types” taught me to be careful with explaining the concept of “good enough.” For example, a business analyst I spoke with pointed out we should only develop a product far enough to exceed customer expections; anything further is wasted development money and results in lower profit margins. To him, this was “good enough” design. But this thinking can lead to, for example, series of incremental improvements and leave a company vulnerable to a competitor’s breakthrough design. See the iPod, or the powered stapler vs. the Swingline.,9171,1034733,00.html
    There may be two issues at work here, both mostly ways we frame the idea of “good enough”:
    1. Prototyping is vital, and prototypes only need to be good enough to test a design idea
    2. Product development requires an approach that integrates analytical and design thinking. The result of this process may be a “good enough” design or a breakthrough design, depending on many factors.

  2. I’m currently working at a company that I’d say exhibits a lot of “design thinking” and is in the position to be defining some early products in a market space. But in some crucial ways, we miss the mark entirely, and I’d say it’s this “good enough” attitude that exactly explains it.
    I hear a lot that “good enough” means: a feature that customers are willing to make buying decisions on, refined to the point where they will accept it. That’s true, in a sad sort of way. But it implies that the ongoing experience of using the product isn’t important (right now), and that the everyday, merely “useful” features of the product–the nuts and bolts of using a peice of software–aren’t worth the attention to even get to “good enough.”
    I think the worst danger of “good enough” thinking is in who owns “good enough.” Is it the marketing manager who sees sales leads convert? Is it the Product manager, who sees his feature checklist completed? Is it the designer, or engineer? Clearly, it should be some of all of these, but in many places, “good enough” is a value in a cell on a spreadsheet that’s not jointly owned.

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