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Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers

Every business owner dreams of creating the equivalent of the iPod, but all too often they believe that they are out of their league when it comes to unleashing that kind of innovation and growth. So they throw up their hands and go back to poring over spreadsheets and market research reports in the search of the next silver bullet, the next catalyst for growth.

But design is not magic. It is not an enigma, a mysterious no-man’s-land where only the brave and the brilliant dare tread. And it certainly does not mock any idea that a formal process could exist for navigating its many hairpin turns.

“Design thinking” is a topic that recently burst onto the scene accompanied by lofty promises but precious few practical details.  Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers is the book that provides those details. Going beyond the basic theory and philosophy of recent books about the topic, it shows readers how to apply design thinking in a step-by-step way to solve complex growth opportunities.

Authors Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie assure readers that business leaders already have the power to design for the 21st century–they just need to figure out how to use it. And they say that any leader of innovation in an organization has likely been practicing design thinking all along.

In Designing for Growth, Liedtka, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and Ogilvie, CEO of innovation strategy consultancy Peer Insight, present design thinking as a systematic approach to problem solving built upon four questions:

What is? Exploring the current reality

What if? Envisioning alternative futures

What wows? Getting users to help make tough choices

What works? Making it work in-market, and as a business

Aligned to the four questions are ten tools, including customer journey mapping, value chain analysis, customer co-creation, and the learning launch. To make them come alive, readers are introduced to a number of practicing managers who are all using design thinking to drive innovation and growth in their organizations, including accountants, marketers, a nurse and an engineer – none of whom have design training.

Readers are introduced to a number of practicing managers who are all using design thinking to drive innovation and growth in their organizations, including accountants, marketers, a nurse and an engineer – none of whom have design training.

Designing for Growth aims to demystify design thinking by decoding design from an abstract idea into a practical, everyday tool from which any manager can profit. The book explains that the process starts with customers and the ability to create a better future for them, it acknowledges that we probably won’t get that right the first time, and it assures us that making it work certainly does not require supernatural powers.

Using a business perspective and business language, Liedtka and Ogilvie:

• Translate the vocabulary of design

• Unpack the mysterious connection between design thinking and profitable growth

• Introduce a systematic process, complete with simple project management aids

• Teach readers the ten tools you’ll need to marry the design approach to traditional business thinking in ways that enhance their ability to profitably grow their businesses

Design is ready to step out of the graphics department and take on complex business and social challenges, but practicing managers don’t care for buzzwords and platitudes. Managers are doers, and when they hear about a promising solution, they want to know how to do it.

Designing for Growth converts the fundamental promise of design thinking into a straightforward system that readers can use immediately to deal with uncertainty and create growth and innovation.  It can help business owners connect deeply with users, reframe their challenges, get new insights, and prototype their way to unexpected solutions that create sustainable growth.

Written in an approachable, hyperbole-free tone, Designing for Growth will help business owners, executives, managers and staff discover the strengths they already have and teach them how to develop some new skills, providing the tools and templates to make readers instant brown-belts in design thinking.

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