Recall that last week I was the featured speaker, along with the visionary and inspiring Mayor of Seoul, at Korea Design Forum 2008. For that event, I created a list of "random" thoughts on design—that is, I excavated my brain to extract the main design ideas I've been shouting about off and on for the last 15 years. After the fact, on the long trip home, I began to mess with the list. The product (of the moment) is presented below:
**"Great things" are more valuable than not-so-great things. (The "duh" "epiphany.")
**"It" [Design] is everything-ubiquitous.
**Everybody's doin' it.
**If "everybody's doin' it," then how do we do it differently-sustainably?
**Everybody will do "it" differently. (But "design zealots" in Japan are about the same as design zealots in Italy.)
**"It" works only if it is "a way of life." (Apple. BMW. Cirque du Soleil. Starbucks.)
**Consider my term-of-choice: "Design-mindfulness." (Design-mindfulness is a universally shared attitude.)
**"It" does not work if it is a "program"!
**"It" is not about "cut and paste," not about sticky-noting a rock star designer—this may, in fact, be counterproductive.
**Designers must become a cherished "part of the family," not "those weird creatives."
**Designers as "dreamers with deadlines"—creative & loose ... with hardass deliverables.
**It's already faddish. (To say it is not to do it.)
**Don't try to "engineer it"—there is an essential "spontaneity" dimension. (Southwest Airlines.)
**"It" starts with the vendors and the vendors' vendors—and especially includes packaging and delivery folks. (And parking lot attendants. Think Disney and the gum-free Orlando airport.)
**In the long run, the "Mittelstand" will make the difference! (National-regional design prowess is powered and sustained by middle-sized companies headed by fanatics.)
**"Design hegemony" applies to the 3-person accounting shop.
**Acquiring design firms is (very) tricky; "they" don't readily fit into ordinary bureaucracies.
**There are no "exempts"—"it" applies as much, albeit in a different way, in purchasing as in product development.
**IT IS NOT ABOUT "MARKETING"! (Though marketing is a piece of it—like everything else.)
**The entire "supply chain" must be on board.
**As always, "MBWA" [Managing By Wandering Around] rules—embedding something new in a culture is a "walkabout" affair.
**"It" is about the way every individual conducts himself or herself. (E.g., the hotel housekeeper, restaurant busboy.)
**We [most of us] live in a "service economy." Design achievement, design dogmatism, applies as much to service "products" as to goods-lumpy objects.
**Design applies as much to a "PSF" [Professional Service Firm] as to a bank or car wash. (From dress code to calling card to flowers in reception to the look & feel of Client reports—to religiously capitalizing the "C" in Client whenever the word is printed to referring to you & the Client as "We.")
**Aesthetics and usability are equally important—with perhaps a slight edge to usability. ("'It won a prize' is the ultimate criticism."—Don Norman. The burning question: "Is the building livable?" Not, "Gosh, it's pretty-in-plan.")
**There is a "bet the farm" element at play—Dubai, Apple, China's Olympics.
**Great design does no less than "change the way we experience the world."
**Design is about "love" and "hate," not "like" and "dislike"—and hence the key to emotional bonding, internally as well as externally.
**When it comes to shaping behavior, there are few tools comparable to interior design and office arrangement—e.g., putting marketing and new product development next door to one another.
**There must be a far higher than normal dose of autonomy-accountability—love of the odd and oddball throughout the enterprise—in the end "it" is about perpetually renewing "value-added through creativity-freshness-spontaneity."
**Since we are dealing with artistic expression and open-endedness, a restless ethos of "trying a lot of stuff, fast" and then "trying again, fast" is of paramount importance.
**"It" must show up in the schools by age 5.
**"It" becomes the chief organizing principle for education.
**When it comes to aesthetics, you get most of "it" from the genes you were dealt. (You can "train in" appreciation, but not artistic flair.)
**As a result of the inescapable need to start the reconstruction process that will underlie a self-regenerating "soft economy" by reinventing-revolutionizing our schools, the transition to a "new [soft] economy" will likely be about 25 years.
**The cataclysmic shift described above—autonomy, creativity, the arts front and center—demands a "Jefferson" (powerful artist-visionary-politician) as national-regional-urban leader.
**Beware of engineers! (Said with affection—I am one.) They (we!) are reductionists—design is about wholes.
**Beware of MBAs (Said with no affection, even though I am one.) Analysis is imperative—but also reductionist. In "real life," emotion rules—but not at the B-schools!
**The education bit is less about aesthetics and more about encouraging individualism—to take a risk on design, you must have a burning desire (to the point of willingness to suffer) to do things differently. (Schools—ours, yours, everyone's—are brilliant at suppressing creativity and "excessive" shows of passion.)
**Capturing "best practice" only goes so far.
**"Six Sigma" can be a deadly enemy. (Tighten down too hard—bye bye creativity-spontaneity.)
**In "design world": Gender differences are ... enormous.
**Women buy most stuff, hence women must design most stuff. (And be very amply represented in management ranks—for reasons of profit, not social justice.)
**Think: "Success through design."
**If you are interested in selling to Europe and the U.S. and Japan (etc.), then you must explicitly (!!!) focus on the over-50 market. (For example, think "7/13"—Americans buy 13 cars in a lifetime on average, 7 when they are 50 or older.)
**If you are serious, the Chief Design Officer [and/or Chief Experience Officer or, per Kevin Roberts, Chief Lovemark Officer] must sit at the same level as the CFO. So, too, the Chief People Officer!
**"It" must be on every (literally) agenda; in project reviews of every type "it" must hold its own with, say, the budget discussion. (Every = every.)
**You'll never be able to explain "it" to the analysts in so many words—hence it will always be to some extent an act of faith.
**Steve Jobs is god. Alas, Steve Jobs is too abnormal to learn from. (Apple is a great example of design primacy, but SJ is "10-sigma man.")
**Design competitions at all levels of society-business must be very big deals.
**Community—small as well as large—investment in the arts (festivals, museums, etc.) is imperative.
**Buy art. (All businesses of all sizes.)
**In the public sector, "it" starts at the airport for foreign visitors especially—an experience that includes signage, traffic management, cop courtesy, air quality, etc.
**You can do a lot for 2 cents! (Think Singapore—details to follow.)
**And don't ignore the subway map. (Think London.)
**Or the public toilets. (Think Paris.)
**Be merciless about urban trash—spend yourself poor if necessary on the removal thereof. The political leadership must be directly involved.
**Good design transforms healthcare facilities (especially hospitals)—and abets healing.
**Good design in eldercare facilities extends life and enhances quality of life—critical as the elder population soars.
**Small things are often (usually?) more important than big things.
**"Design Is Free" is closer to the mark than you would think.
**Process design excellence is a matchless tool—emphasizing aesthetics (!) as much as practicality.
**Throwing money at problems is almost always a dumb thing to do—Design Excellence included.
**Training in "service excellence" is often a better "design investment" than capital spending.
**This ain't limited to global enterprises.
**The overall quality and effectiveness of SMEs contributes more to the GDP and tenor-character of a nation-region than that of big ("famous") firms.
**Gandhi and Mandela and Churchill and JFK and Reagan and Thatcher and Sarkozy and Franklin and Washington set the tone to an incredible degree—their "personal style" was their "brand." ("It" starts with personal style of the tip-top leadership team. Sorry to be politically insensitive, but who would give a hoot about Tibet if it weren't for the look and style of the Dalai Lama?) Boss at any level: You're either on the "it" boat—or not.
Over to you ...