Design Thinking and The Art of Business Design

3 03 2010

You can also get an audio version of this blogpost here: – Listen!

I have heard it said over the last year or so that Design Schools are the new Business Schools. Protagonists argue that this is because old school businesses are out-of-date, which is consistent with the “Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild” message coming from global business leaders at this years WEF Annual Meeting in Davos.

This trend will lead towards the growing application of Design Thinking in business design. This is a process for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result. In organization and management theory, design thinking forms part of the Architecture/Design/Anthropology (A/D/A) paradigm, which characterizes innovative, human-centered enterprises. This paradigm also focuses on a collaborative and iterative style of work and an abductive mode of thinking, compared to practices associated with the more traditional Mathematics/Economics/Psychology (M/E/P) management paradigm.

These principles are consistent with the adoption of Authenticity as a fundamental philosophy and culture around which a business can be designed in pursuit of its declared purpose. And by combining Design Thinking with Authenticity I believe we are seeing the rise of The Art of Business Design – creating the Avant Garde businesses of today, and most probably the successful ones of tomorrow.

However, businesses also need an architecture to provide structure and form, but by their very nature this architecture also need to be amorphous to a degree – allowing flexibility to bend to changing economic conditions, competition, emergence of new technologies, etc. So I advocate designing businesses and organisations using the “Authentic Business Architecture” – shown below: –

Copyright : Cultivar Consulting 2010

This Amoeba like architecture contains the essential elements of structure that are needed for a business to operate, but it recognises that when a business changes shape, then the constituent elements will all be affected to some degree, and need to flex accordingly.

So Business Design needs to be holistic, authentic, and abductive if it seeks to be creative and innovative in delivering its purpose effectively.

For more information about The Art of Business Design, Authenticity, and Design Thinking contact me : Cultivar Consulting

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One response

9 03 2010
Jeremy Le Fevre

Having studied Social Anthropology in the 90s, a time when the Applied science was beginning to flex its wings, I am encouraged to hear you include it as an important perspective in changing business focus towards humans. Indeed anthropologists are not uncommon along the corridors of hi-tech companies built on the paradigm of innovation such as Intel, Microsoft, Google, Kodak and Apple. As an example, have a look at this short film of an old course friend Dr Simon Roberts’ work with Intel. He ends with the humbling question, often missed in the technologies we see around us:
Where’s the meaningful role that we can play?
(http://mfile.akamai.com/10430/wmv/cim.download.akamai.com/10430/intel/ethnographers.asx)

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