Saturday, March 05, 2016

Why Companies Who Want to Be Design-Centric Will Never Be

From time to time I hear about the success of companies who have a high-quality design ethos. It's true that they tend to fair better in the marketplace, because in a sea of similar products and offerings, design can set them apart quicker than a list of features.

However, I'm not sure this approach is easy to imitate. For many companies being design-centric usually means improving the looks of the facade — which will not be successful in the long run. What's often overlooked is that design-centric companies have design thinking in their DNA, and not as an add-on. But companies who aspire to be design-centric are often motivated by something other than the love of making and doing beautiful things that inspire or enrich their customer's experience.

Seeking to set themselves apart through design, these companies will find design to be time-consuming and expensive. And it's hard to stay the course, if you don't have any dedication to it, or want something else more. Patience and endurance is a product of conviction, not of quick-fix tactics. But when a company values beauty in all they do, and have a more long-term view, it will influence their decision-making and goals.

It's like investing. You can invest a certain amount of money for a quick short-term payoff — like gambling. Sometimes you might win, but most of the time, you lose. Or you can adopt a long-term investment strategy, which includes some calculated and high-risk goals that will payoff in the future. The long-term investment strategy always does much better.

It's good for companies who aspire to be design-centric to be honest with themselves first, then adjust their expectations accordingly. Because it's okay to use design to get better results. But becoming design-centric means you desire to change into something better.

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