Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review: Design Is How It Works By Jay Greene

The Premise:
Design can be the difference between success and failure. Whether it’s product design, designing an experience or both, Jay Greene looks at companies that he believes have embraced a culture of design and have succeeded in the marketplace as a result.

The Good:
When the profiled companies fit the premise, this book is chockfull of insights on how to create and implement a culture of creativity. Some of the best, to me, were:

Bang & Olufsen—No designers on staff; all freelancers to avoid office politics and bureaucracy

Porsche—“In the beginning, I looked around but couldn’t find the car I dreamt of, so I decided to build it myself.” –Ferry Porsche

LEGO—“If you put guiding principles in place, you empower people to make the right decision.”—Paal Smith-Meyer

OXO—“We asked the wrong question, set the wrong criteria and got the wrong answer.”—[I liked the quote but forgot to write down the attribution. Sorry! –That Tad Guy]

Clif Bar—An example of failure as a prototype

Virgin—A blueprint for being aggressive in lean times and how to consider experiences like a theatre set

ACE Hotel—A working example of how design can create personality and differentiation, inexpensively

The Bad:
Some of these companies were a forced fit and some provided the same design example (or had considerable overlap) as other, more relevant companies. Also, more than a few seemed to be chosen simply because Mr. Greene had a contact at the company and the chapters ended up feeling like filler. While I can appreciate the hard work that went into this book, I do wish that each company provided a distinctly different example of a design solution.

The Verdict:
Buy it for your client, CEO or team leader. Put it in the hands of anyone who can actually, truly influence how a team or process operates.