Diego Rodriguez: “Empathy is the wellspring of value creation.” Matt 12 Sep 2006

5 comments Latest by Nivi

We’ll soon be posting a Fireside Chat with Diego Rodriguez and John Maeda. Here’s some background on Diego:

Diego Rodriguez works across the domains of business, design, and technology. He spends his days at IDEO, teaches at Stanford’s d.school, writes a column for BusinessWeek online, and blogs about “the art & science of bringing cool stuff to life” at Metacool.

Especially interesting is his idea that good design isn’t just about products, it’s about the entire business environment. Think Big, a piece he wrote for BusinessWeek, discusses that concept.

All airlines do a good job of flying us safely, but what we remember are tortuous gate delays, rude staff, and the roller hockey nature of the boarding process. An enormous amount of energy has been spent in the design of the elements that enables the physical act of flying, but little has gone into the back-end business processes, which, if thought through from the customer’s point of view, could bring the rest of the experience up to par…The hit rate for new market innovations could be much higher if as much energy was focused on designing for back-end business fit as is typically spent on market-facing expressions.

The piece also discusses how a company can use design concepts like rapid prototyping to improve its entire business process.

Developing a great experience requires us to apply the “rapid prototyping” philosophy from the world of physical product development to the task of designing viable businesses. Running quick experiments is a great way to figure out how, when, and why our new experience offering will make money…

Rather than placing a big bet and swinging for the fence, proceed as design thinkers do, which is to create something quick and cheap, show it to real people, and roll the learning back into the venture. When used as an integral part of the design process of new experiences, iterative experimentation can have a dramatic effect on the viability of whatever ends up going to market. As a case in point, Whole Foods (WFMI) is rolling out bigger new stores in large part because of their greater capacity for experimentation and learning.

Some more excerpts from pieces written by Diego:

Fail early, fail often [Metacool]

‘Why not do something NOW?’ If half of life is about just showing up, then the other half (and more than half when you’re in the business of getting something good done) is about getting past the excuses, grabbing a wrench, and hacking away. Fail early, fail often. Build a prototype. Think global, drink local. Catch something on fire. Why not screw something up today instead of strategizing for the next month? You might learn something. No — you WILL learn something. What’s the worst that could happen?

Saturn’s Rust-Proof Brand [BusinessWeek]

How do great brands come to be? While some would have you believe that “building a brand” is as opaque a process as the formulation of Wall Street financial derivatives, the reality can be as simple and direct as this: a brand is about what you do, or don’t do, and not what you say.

It’s the sum total of all your actions. Yes, positioning messages and advertising imagery play a supporting role in developing your brand identity, but what really matters is what you do and how that makes people feel.

Happiness and the Art of Innovation [BusinessWeek]

When it comes to creating innovative organizations, the key question is not “What superstar creative people do I need?” or “What highly-touted process can I put in place?” No, the key to unleashing innovative behavior is asking the question “how can I help each person in my organization achieve a state of happiness on a daily basis?” In other words, help happiness bloom, and innovative behavior will follow.

5 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Matt 12 Sep 06

Best post in a while, guys. Lots of food for thought here. I especially love the definition of brand, “…a brand is about what you do, or don�t do, and not what you say… what really matters is what you do and how that makes people feel.” So simple (even obvious), but so easy to overlook when we get bogged down by the day to day.

Zack 12 Sep 06

I love the “Fail early, fail often” quote! I definately need to spend less time thinking and more time doing. Otherwise, I just wind up stairing at the “wrench” and pondering…Hmmm, how shall I pick it up? Do I even need a wrench? What if I use a screwdriver instead? Perhaps a beer will help me decide this.

Stupid brain!

scott brooks 12 Sep 06

Those guys at ideo are great! Mega innovators!
They have been responsible for lots of ground breaking products.
i personally love their method cards ….good for the average person to spur the creative solutions.
Cool post.



Sandy 12 Sep 06

Develop innovation through cultivating happiness in the staff. What a beautiful, sage idea!

Geshe Michael Roach goes into this in “The Diamond Cutter” where he talks about how he helped create a major NY jewelry business from the ground up.