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How to beat the holy grail of business

Innovation has become the holy grail of modern organizational life.  The vast majority of organizations, whether for-profit or not, big or small, are frustrated by the slow pace and low level of innovation to which they find themselves limited. Unbeknownst to them, analytical thinking, which is the predominant thinking pattern in their organizations, inadvertently suppresses innovation and creativity.

About Roger Martin

Roger Martin found that in order to overcome this limitation, organizations need to incorporate the best of design thinking into their ways of working. He explored this theme in his 2009 book, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage. He showed how an organization can counter-balance analytical thinking with intuitive thinking to enable it to both exploit existing knowledge and explore to create new knowledge.  The former enables it to prosper today while the latter ensures that will be able to build advantage for the future.

Roger Martin‘s  work on the Design of Business covers a wide array of themes:

  • Why business people and designers have such a challenge working productively with each other – and what they can do about it;
  • Why there is a battle in most organizations between the desire for reliability – the production of a consistent replicable outcome – and for validity – the production of an outcome that is highly desired;
  • Why reliability tends to dominate and how organizations can achieve a more productive balance;
  • How organizations can link design principles to business strategies to produce systematic and consistent innovation.

About the book

Most companies today have innovation envy. They yearn to come up with a game-changing innovation like Apple’s iPod, or create an entirely new category like Facebook. Many make genuine efforts to be innovative–they spend on R&D, bring in creative designers, hire innovation consultants. But they get disappointing results. Why? In “The Design of Business,” Roger L. Martin offers a compelling and provocative answer: we rely far too exclusively on analytical thinking, which merely refines current knowledge, producing small improvements to the status quo. To innovate and win, companies need design thinking. This form of thinking is rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another–from mystery (something we can’t explain) to heuristic (a rule of thumb that guides us toward solution) to algorithm (a predictable formula for producing an answer) to code (when the formula becomes so predictable it can be fully automated). As knowledge advances across the stages, productivity grows and costs drop–creating massive value for companies. Martin shows how leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cirque du Soleil, RIM, and others use design thinking to push knowledge through the stages in ways that produce breakthrough innovations and competitive advantage. Filled with deep insights and fresh perspectives, “The Design of Business” reveals the true foundation of successful, profitable innovation.

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What design thinking demands

For a review go to From that review this quote:

Design thinking is challenging because it demands organizational change:

  • It calls for businesses to be organized around tasks, not traditional functions.
  • It calls for businesses to work differently — for instance, P&G got its innovation pipeline humming by tapping outside innovators.
  • It calls for leaders to champion innovation, whether they’re designers (Mike Lazaridis at Research in Motion), sympathizers (A.G. Lafley at P&G) or a hybrid (Steve Jobs at Apple).
  • It requires nontraditional approaches to financial planning to fund programs and reward people.
  • It requires new ways of thinking. Constraints need to be seen as opportunities.

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