So, I was cleaning my bookshelf this weekend and ran across the book “The Designful Company”. I really enjoyed reading this book the first time around and since it was such a quick read I decided to do a skim of the book again.
There are SO many take-a-ways from this book (I have two double sided sheets of paper with quotes and notations from pages in the book of things I want to remember or try to act on) that I wanted to do a post about it, but I won’t bore you with all of my notes-since I also think that you should pick up the book and make the read yourself.
The book’s main focus is how to get companies to leave behind their old management model and assembly-line thinking and adopt to a designful way of thinking and working. It discusses how to choose employees that will work in a designful company… those who are empathetic, intuitive, imaginative and idealistic. Incorporating those into a company culture creates a collaborative culture that allows the company to be agile and function as a single entity. Companies should not measure things only in a win-lose mentality, but as a win-win mentality with a shift in seeing their failures as a step in the learning process. Things are not as simple as task-execute-succeed. It’s a more process based idea where good ideas are developed and revolutionized along the way. Take Apple for an example. By the time that a product comes out for Apple, they are already almost done with the next version of that product. They don’t execute on the first product then wait to see how it does before evolving it with the needs of the world. As things move so quickly now with technology, if you aren’t creating the product that will replace the product you just launched, your competitors will. You need to be your biggest competitor- not in the book… just something I really believe.
Here are a few quotes that I really like from the book.
“You have to wonder about a CEO that needs a survey to find out if his employees are happy.”
I have worked for a few companies now, and it always amazes me the amount of “employee surveys” that get sent out each year at a company. To find out if people are happy and what the company can be doing better to make their employees happy. My question is, do you think Google sends out survey’s each year to their employees? I don’t think so. Google is one of the companies that everyone wants to work for. Not because it is easy work for their paycheck (as I assume it is quite a lot of work there), but because they are treated well, listened to and rewarded for their work. You think all of that came from survey answers or the fact that their “upper management” works one-on-one with the company employees. Everyone there is given a chance to be heard. There is no “you need to talk to your manager, who talks to their director, who talks to the VP, who might mention it to the President”. Ideas get heard from any level of the company since good ideas CAN come from any level in the company.
This is definitely an idea that is discussed in the book as something that companies need to adopt in order to start thinking in a new way.
“Companies don’t fail because the choose the wrong course- they fail because they can’t imagine a better one.”
There is always another way and a different way of doing things, the question is really “do you have the right employees to think of those ideas AND the right company culture to embrace those ideas when they are presented?” Too many companies are in the habit of doing something since “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. That in no way makes it the right way. People are scared of change and prefer to take a route that they have always taken… but is that really because that’s what PEOPLE like to do, or is that because people have been trained to do that over the years by companies and are now afraid to speak up and try something new??
As brands and big companies fail to adopt to designful thinking… their products will become nothing less than commodities and fade away as competitors step in and step up to make better products and follow a designful thinking business model. Companies need to focus on making a change for the better and getting on a track of out-of-the-box thinking.
Overall, this book really made me think about what I am doing, how I can make a difference where I work, and if I can’t then where I need to go to be able to make a difference.
A good read. Quick, larger font, impactful charts and powerful quotes that really make you wonder.