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Design is Innovation

Design is Innovation

Harvard Business School Professor Robert Hayes makes an interesting comment on competition between companies, and how this competition has evolved/is evolving in the new millennium.

Hayes says that in the twentieth century, companies competed on price. Today they compete on quality. Yet even this is changing. In the new millennium, design is king (though of course quality is still critical–nobody wants to buy a really pretty but functionless product).

Let’s look at the tech industry as an example. It’s probably reasonable to assume that all products in this market place come with basically the same technology, features, performance and price. Design is the big thing that allows a consumer to differentiate between products. Just think of the design difference between Mac and Windows.

If it follows, then, that the consumer is left to making their purchasing decision based largely on design, this is where you need to innovate. This is where you need to differentiate your product or service through fresh, intelligent, appealing design.

You should make the most of this opportunity for innovation. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Why compete when you could stand apart?

Design ought to be a core focus of your business, and it should translate to all the departments in your company, whether it’s Accounting, Training, Purchasing, and, of course, Product Design.

Take a moment to consider your business. Do you think your designs (in whatever form they take, be it strategy or product or method) are innovative? Do your designs respond to what your customers want? Can you anticipate what your customers want and surprise them by delivering better designs before they even have to ask?

It’s true that design is risky. But if you do your research, and if you get that design right on all levels, the payoff is incredible. Sometimes you’ve got to take that risk. If we were all too cautious about design innovation, we’d still be walking around plugged into Discmans. No doubt you prefer your smart phone or current mp3 player. Same goes for changing designs in TVs, cars… it even applies to how food is plated up in restaurants!

Good design doesn’t mean blowing the budget. It does mean exceeding expectations. Deliver innovative design on time and on cost. Deliver a design that your customer didn’t even know they wanted, but one that excites them and one that they won’t be able to do without from this point forward.

Look around you and really think about what makes a business and its products or services successful. Look at what sets it apart from its competitors. Look at how it evolves and how it demonstrates creativity. You’ll quickly realise that innovative design pays dividends.