Good Design is Good Business

by F.

Roger Martin has some interesting things to say about the necessity of good design:

Even as design gets its due, however, some business types wish the clock could be turned back to a time before all those designers were running around urging people to let their creative juices flow. And they resent that even as design is forced upon them or insinuated into their work, the designers themselves are often not held accountable for meeting firm revenue and profit targets–the primary form of business discipline.

This tension between business-as-usual and business-by-design is not new, of course. Many businesspeople have long regarded designers as mere stylists. More than a few designers see businesspeople as Neanderthals all too willing to forfeit quality for the sake of profit. Their mutual pique springs from a fundamental difference in the way each side thinks about creating value: Corporate types, by and large, seek to fuel growth by building from bulletproof, reproducible systems; designers generally attempt to do so by imagining something new, different, better. That difference can be seen as a trust in reliability on the one hand and in validity on the other.

An anecdote. Since January 7, 2006, I’ve been using a Mac exclusively. That’s good design. Yesterday, my wife’s Thinkpad/Winblows machine needed to talk to our wireless printer. Sounds simple. No. Forty-five minutes, three websites, and three Advil later, we were both (a) frustrated and (b) without a solution to the problem. In contrast, my Mac just started talking to the printer out of the box. The only reason to buy Microsoft’s crappy products is to fund the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But why not just donate directly and not have to get their products?

The rest of the piece is here.