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The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,698 ratings  ·  84 reviews
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 Martin
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mpd
A prime example on why business books don’t hold up. In 2009, this was probably closer to cutting edge and innovative - that said, the writing is interminable when not discussing concrete case studies. Now, the approach Martin describes is table stakes to get innovative products out the door. Also note I said “closer to cutting edge” - that’s because there’s little new here. Everything Martin says has been said and done better in other works: The Innovator’s Dillemma, Blue Ocean Strategy, The ...more
Steve Horton
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Like many business books that caught the crest of a wave, you are sometimes reading this book thinking how obvious this all is. This may be true when an author has distilled a big, fluffy concept into black and white text, but this is no mean feat. Articulating business concepts can be like putting a cloud in a box. You are grabbing big handfuls of nothing.

Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, does a great job in describing the battle between current knowledge (efficiency) and
Feb 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I got this from the library after reading a sample of Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL, which looked promising. But my library didn't have that one, so I read this one instead.

It's godawfully written—clunky, repetitive, confusing—and it doesn't really have much to say. But what it does have to say is pretty good, and better than I expected for a "business book."

Martin has two main ideas:
1) Businesses ideas get funneled/simplified from the initial
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
"As understanding moves from mystery to heuristic to algorithm, extraneous information is pared away; the complexities of the world are mastered through simplification." (12-3).

"[N]o new idea could be proved deductively or inductively using past data. Moreover, if new ideas were not the product of the two accepted forms of logic, he reasoned, there must be a third fundamental logical mode. New ideas came into being, Peirce posited, by way of 'logical leaps of the mind.' New ideas arose when a
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed by Ravensbourne MA student.

“The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking Is the Next Competitive Advantage”. Written by Roger Martin, the dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and published by the “Harvard Business Press”, in Boston, Massachusetts, 2009. []

In a constantly changing and developing society, it is safe to argue that businesses which fail to agilely adapt to the ever changing landscape
Brendan Byrne
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is a 15 minute TED Talk in slow motion. Opportunities that long form media like books allow for are disregarded. Very much like slow motion where new information isn't introduced, but rather the already existing information is enhanced, this book explores little outside of the ideas it engages with and opts for redundancies, repetitions, and mantras.

Martin's core idea of the knowledge funnel strikes me as a rebranded and dressed up version of the scientific method where
Fred Zimny
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I like books that can be read in a weekend. And that can be consumed while sipping a nice Talenti Brunello 2000

The content of the book was that interesting that i forgot to watch part of the CC 2010 (although I did see the professional stage)

In the book Roger Martin explains why an over reliance on analytical thinking leaves us vulnerable in times of change and blind to emerging opportunities.

For me it was great to see how the author described this also on the professional and personal level.

Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Applying design principles to business management

Roger Martin’s book on business design is subtle yet profound. He guides you to rethink the way you conceptualize business decisions so you can shift to “design thinking.” Using an approach rooted in both practice and theory, Martin cites examples ranging from Cirque du Soleil to McDonald’s. He urges you to reconsider your leadership model and organizational structures, and to exercise “abductive logic,” thinking that moves through “logical leaps
Prashant Kelker
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book will go onto my reference shelf - I probably highlighted more than 50% of this book. Roger Martin lifts the curtain up from simultaneously managing innovation and predictability, and seeks not only to define Design Thinking but also translate what this means in the corporate world.

The pattern of translating mystery to heuristics to algorithms is the closest answer I have seen to getting tacit expertise into explicit corporate knowledge that is scalable.

Most books are worth a quick
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
mystery > heuristic > algorithm
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: business-time
Good primer on the integration of design thinking into an organization. Mostly keeps it at a conceptual, theoretical level and uses fairly general case studies to tell the story.
Nathan Albright
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge-2019
It must be admitted that a book like this has a bit of an uphill climb. The author seeks to promote a sort of thinking that runs counter to the quantitative spirit of the times and points out the sort of systemic biases in favor of reliability over validity that make it hard for people in many contemporary businesses to justify the high-risk, high-reward efforts at creative thinking that make it possible to provide genuine and long-lasting competitive advantages in a world where most businesses ...more
Gayendra Abeywardane
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
'The Design of Business' by Roger Martin is another wealthy design read I was fortunate to come across via the awesome folks at the ThinkBig team @Optus.

Again, pursuing my new interests in 'Design Thinking'. This book explains why we must step away from reliability-oriented management and seek new anomalies to exploit. Running a reliable algorithm based on past data makes us vulnerable to cataclysmic events. This fact is very apparent with the rapid advance in technology and disruptive business
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Stumbled upon this one during my search to understand critically why DT is not being adopted much if it is what exactly the title says, the next big advantage. I found my answers to some extent for some of the questions like -When it fails? What are the ingredients for a successful design project, especially in management consulting. It tries to answer these questions to some extent through its case studies of Intuit, P&G etc. However if the main objective is to sell DT, you will certainly ...more
Nathan Holm
Jun 30, 2019 rated it liked it
The book highlights some key concepts that I find valuable to leading an organization into successfully applying design-thinking concepts into its operation. However, there is nothing particularly captivating in the story telling nor memorable for application.

The book did do an excellent job of communicating the leadership challenge, and importance of, to the sustained success of an organization of balancing ‘reliability’ mind thinking and ‘validity’ minded thinking.

This book was timely as I am
Khalil Alfar
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Solid read to get you grounded on design thinking and share lots of stories and examples of organizations and teams who have gone through that and the impact it had on them, lives and society. Could use a refresher on topics, selection of examples and stories. My favorite is RIM as an example of an organization that leveraged design thinking and the example of Mike Lazaridis (CEO and founder of RIM) talkes about competition.

By watching his competitors, Lazaridis had learned the danger of
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've heard of the Ford model T 'if people were asked what they wanted, they would want a faster horse' story many times before. It was refreshing to read about the Aeron chair and how users wanted the 'finished product' with padding and upholstery when they saw the chair. It was also interesting to read about blackberry from the 2009 perspective when it was still popular (before iphone and android overtook it). The idea of codifying ideas from mystery to heuristic to algorithm is prevalent in ...more
Michael Wolcott
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A classic for those interested in design thinking, especially as it relates to business. The argument is presented very elegantly with the analogy to validity and reliability—it will definitely resonate with those in psychology and education. Unfortunately it has some dated information and material so it may not be entirely applicable any longer.
May 06, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
Ok book for a specific audience

I would not recommend this book if you are looking to generally learn about design thinking. This book does have some good thoughts on how you might introduce design thinking into an organization that is typically more focused on execution and efficiency, but that's about it.
Sharon Lam
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: business-design
Fun read with good stories to illustrate the use of design thinking in business. However, some examples show this book is dated... an example of weathering change successfully where the business is no longer in business now. I'm not sure the book totally proved its thesis, but it is engaging and posits something you can see evidence of.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, design
This was probably more relevant 10 years ago when it was written. Unlike other business books that are heavily history or personal anecdote based, this is mostly market-analysis and practice based. So the predictions are largely outdated in 2019. Would not recommend as a 2019 read since most of the innovative recommended business practices are now fully utilized in the marketplace.
Ahn, Hang San
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book with Changes by Design by Tim Brown

The book talks about the essential frameworks of design thinking in a way that beautifully counterbalances Tim Brown's Changes by Design, which is a lot more about how to design-think.
Dean Millson
Dec 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the second book I have read by Roger Martin and in some ways my review is similar to the last. The premise here is a great insight, but I'm not sure it's worthy of an entire book. There is quite a bit of repetition and padding around the main idea, but it's a worthy idea, none the less.
Andrew Soldini
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
While this book makes a couple of interesting points about design thinking, it’s clear that it has been written at a time before the lessons of the innovator’s dillemma had fully hit Silicon Valley. RIM is one of their main companies complimented lol
Anthony Threatt
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall the book was great and the discussion about reliability and validity was something that I hadn't thought about before. I was wishing for a little more though beyond that chapter to really dig deep into the design of business.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was hoping for more insight from this book regarding design thinking.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Design is not a luxury, amirite?!?!?!?!
Anuj Khandelwal
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good read for the first timers on Design thinking along with examples drawn from the corporate world.
Becky Tyrrell
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Great message with some good case studies, but an incredibly repetitive book. Should’ve been an article or TED talk instead.
Nick Richtsmeier
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s hard to find a good design-thinking book. The design-thinking curricula are so loaded with internal vocabulary and insider contrarianism that the reader often feels like you are swimming through a sea of barriers to entry.

Some of this is because true design-thinking is incredibly tactile and almost somatic, making it difficult to train in a book.

This book suffers from much of the same, added to the fact that it venerates design-thinking businesses and leaders which have since its writing
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Roger Martin is the Institute Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship at the Rotman School of Management and the Premier’s Chair in Productivity & Competitiveness. From 1998 to 2013, he served as Dean. Previously, he spent 13 years as a Director of Monitor Company, a global strategy consulting firm based in Cambridge, ...more