Big corporations today can be viewed as decision factories — but where’s the elegant design approach that’s applied to products?

Great design is characterised by deep user understanding, visualisation of creative resolution of tensions, collaborative prototyping to enhance solutions, and continuous modification and enhancement after launch. The result is design solutions that are easy for users to adopt, delightful for them to use, and likely to get better over time.

Corporate decisions, in contrast, are likely to be driven more by producer desires than user needs, accepting of unpleasant trade-offs generated without intensive involvement of users, and applied inflexibly. As a result, decisions tend to take a long time to make, often unravel, take expensive and time-consuming “buy-in” procedures, and are lower quality than they could be with greater user understanding and input.

[By Roger L. Martin, Dean of Rotman School of Management]

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