There has been a veritable onslaught of strategy and business 'design' literature published in the past few years. Most of it is interesting but falls into one of two traps: either it's too theoretical to put into action, or it's directed to a choir of the design-familiar and leaves everyone else behind. Liedtka and Ogilvie break the mold with their new book, providing a framework and a tool kit to help almost anyone with interest and motivation explore the power of design thinking.
It starts with a relatively simple point. Most of the time, most of the world sees the design process as messy and unpredictable and nonlinear and twisted and terribly inefficient. In many organizations, that's why design is often considered a black box so impenetrable that it's outsourced to marketers, product developers, and, well, designers. Liedtka and Ogilvie take the mess and unbundle it all into a four-phase, 10-step framework that starts to look more like a process that individuals and organizations can learn and replicate.
While the steps are somewhat familiar, the recommended approaches in each phase sound reasonable but are more challenging for most people to put into practice. (Try explaining to a typical business planner that you're going to generate new business offerings based on research you conduct with a dozen or so customers, and you'll see what I mean.) Lucky for all of us, Designing for Growth provides concrete tools and step-by-step instructions and plenty of real-life examples for each step of the journey so that there's sufficient structure to help the reader navigate the discomfort of trying something new.
I've been fortunate enough to collaborate with Liedtka and she's fond of saying that she's not a designer, and that if she and her faculty colleagues can make good use of the Designing for Growth tools then anyone can. Having watched her in action, I'd say she's more of a designer than she'd like to admit, though perhaps not in a traditional sense. Because for me -- and as illustrated throughout Designing for Growth -- being a designer isn't about being artistic or clever or even all that creative. Being a designer is about approaching a complex problem with curiosity and empathy and patience and then having the discipline to explore many possible answers before selecting a path forward. This book helps bring out that design thinker in each of us.