Monday, December 28, 2009

Algorithm Design Express

Talking about management and how design is an axiom to achieve competitive advantage harks back to the famous line by Thomas Watson of IBM who famously said, "Good design is good business."

A recent book I read on this subject makes some profound observations about the function of design. The “big idea” within the pages is that design today has emerged as a primary component within organization management and structure.

Case studies are offered including the classic examples of course Apple and the iphone market tsunami, Mcdonalds and Target Shopping Centres. Three major enterprises in the USA that use design as back bone to their corporate ethos. Design is a prime construct of their brand evident in all aspects of product lines and user touch points and experiences.

The essence of the book from my review is the formula offered. Readers get a walk through on how new ideas that constantly emerge in business either get embraced and grow or dismissed and written off. After all business is about making rulings on opportunities and avoiding red herrings. Red herrings can be dressed up to appear like opportunities they may attract precious time and money. They may use energy that is better invested elsewhere. Red herrings that take hold in the organization and channel focus have a downside risk.

The three stations of Organizational Management with an underlying design function.





Ideas come through the door (often in multiples) daily the larger the organization the greater number of stakeholders and constituents the more ideas, opportunities, red herrings and business concepts show up for rulings. This becomes an issue of governance for the organization about the determination of what gets support and what doesn’t. These ideas are like buses. Some pass some stop some are milk runs others are express lines. This notion of what to choose and what to dismiss applies to individuals and the paths we follow as well as enterprises.


Defined by Wikipedia:”A heuristic method is particularly used to rapidly come to a solution that is hoped to be close to the best possible answer, or 'optimal solution'. ...”

Once a decision is made to proceed with an idea the metaphorical bus proceeds into the heuristic phase of business management. This is likely a cost to the organization in investment dollars, people, capital expenditures or other resources. At this stage of the journey the ruling has been made to proceed so upside gains or downside risks aside the bus has departed the station.

In the innovation business we deal with a broad spectrum of opportunities that each require their own unique heuristic. We need to be agile and avoid rigid systems that don’t align with our clients aspirations. Experience, great people and great design support building the best alternatives to ensure value gets driven to the client. The more transparency on what the unique heuristic is in support of the clients goals or aspirations the greater the partnership with the client. Design is central to effective heuristics. In my experience the best design solutions result from great partnerships with clients.


The heuristic phase of organizational dynamic often presents complexity. For some organizations executing on heuristics in the interests of advancing the corporate goals is a rewarding lifetime focus. The goal working within the design business is to attain an algorithm for growing the business. The algorithm is a specific set of instructions for solving a problem. Organizations that have moved past the heuristic and implemented algorithms to drive forward generally succeed and have enormous growth potential.

Check out the link The Design of Business! The Author also wrote " The Opposable Mind" another great management read.


Kyle Braatz said...

Hi Bob,

Great post. I look forward to following along. Trying to find you on Twitter as we speak.



Robert W. Chitty said...