The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage

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Harvard Business Press, 2009 - Creative ability in business - 191 pages
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Most companies today have innovation envy. They yearn to come up with a game--changing innovation like Apple's iPod, or create an entirely new category like Facebook. Many make genuine efforts to be innovative--they spend on R&D, bring in creative designers, hire innovation consultants. But they get disappointing results.

Why? In The Design of Business, Roger Martin offers a compelling and provocative answer: we rely far too exclusively on analytical thinking, which merely refines current knowledge, producing small improvements to the status quo.

To innovate and win, companies need design thinking. This form of thinking is rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another--from mystery (something we can't explain) to heuristic (a rule of thumb that guides us toward solution) to algorithm (a predictable formula for producing an answer) to code (when the formula becomes so predictable it can be fully automated). As knowledge advances across the stages, productivity grows and costs drop-creating massive value for companies.

Martin shows how leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cirque du Soleil, RIM, and others use design thinking to push knowledge through the stages in ways that produce breakthrough innovations and competitive advantage.

Filled with deep insights and fresh perspectives, The Design of Business reveals the true foundation of successful, profitable innovation.

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I feel this is very clear, and well laid out. The author places particular importance on balancing exploratory thinking and exploitative thinking. This is a must-read for anyone starting a business with the end-user in mind.

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I found the presented framework of Mystery -> Heuristics -> Algorithm extremely interesting as a philosophic topic, but completely useless in terms of applicability.
Tons of examples seem to
be inserted in the book just to make it longer.
The idea is clarified in the first 10 pages, all the rest is author's stubborn intention to prove his framework works.
Only it doesn't. One can come up with the same number of counter-examples.


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About the author (2009)

Roger Martin is dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and a professor of strategic management at the school. He authored The Responsibility Virus, The Opposable Mind, and many articles in leading business publications including Harvard Business Review, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, and Barron's.

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