Why Design?


When people ask me about the type of work I do in the corporate setting, they always ask if I still get to do design. I say I do sometimes on the side when my friends ask for logo favors or help with their start up businesses, but never completely immersing in it not really thinking that Business and Design had anything in common until now. This article aims to capture that crucial aha! moment where I  finally figured out that Design has more to do with my day job than just something I would work on during my spare time—the 20% spent outside of the daily corporate grind.

“The most valuable result of 20 percent time isn’t the products and features that get created, it’s the things that people learn when they try something new.” ― Eric SchmidtHow Google Works

Design Thinking for Disruptive Business. It all started when I read this case study on how IBM implemented a design culture and decided to take a crack out of it, pitched the idea to my boss and a week later held a session with the enterprise group that develops disruptive technologies in my organization. This initiative has three parts in the making: introduction, execution, and evaluation of Design Thinking (DT). This article covers the first part for now.

Moxie is a Yiddish term for courage, determination to see things through. It is also a brand of one of the oldest mass-produced soda in America. In the metaphorical sense, this initiative, although not a job requirement needs a lot of moxie. So before we start, metaphorically I asked everyone to drink some moxie!

In design school I learned that design is beyond aesthetics. Whereas Art is form of self-expression, acted upon inspired impulse; Design requires more time in the thought development process. We analyse things and think of ways to improve it. This process is not much different from business strategy.

I have this HBR article pinned on my desk, it says "Dysfunctional Products Come from Dysfunctional Organisations” and based on my experience in product management, this could not be truer. Two points: everyday we are bombarded with infinite data which are pretty much useless unless it provides value. Value-added data is information, an overload of which can lead to miscommunication, which is another word for chaos. The second point is that a disconnect in the internal process heavily impacts day-to-day service delivery, ultimately affects the overall customer experience (CX). Therein lies the challenge of productizing new business solutions and introducing it into a market that has yet to fully embrace technology.


"Design thinking began as a way to improve the process of designing tangible products. But that’s not where it will end. Design thinking principles have the potential to be even more powerful when applied to managing the intangible challenges involved in getting people to engage with and adopt innovative new ideas and experiences." 


Why Design? Design for clarity. Design for organisational alignment. As the disruptive business portfolio grows, you can bet the degree of complexity these new products are exponential. As we navigate through information overload, we have to establish a unified way of thinking that would get everyone on the same page. The goal is to implement design across the product, process and people and which will ultimately influence how we design the customer experience (CX).

Recommended Readings:

  1. Design for Action

  2. How Google Works

  3. Dysfunctional Products Come from Dysfunctional Organisations