Roger Martin and Design and Business

Last night we went to Stanford to see Roger Martin from U of Toronto’s Rotman B-school talk about Business and Design. This seems to be the identical talk he’s been giving this year at other events, as many of the slides looked familiar just from blog browsing.

I took a lot of notes but I’m probably not going to type up a summary of the talk if others have done so. For now, I’ll point you to other summaries such as this one (scroll down to “The Highlight of Day One: Roger Martin-Designing in Hostile Territory”), here, and here. You can find his slides from a previous presentation here. Yesterday’s presentation included a final slide that talked about how businesses can become more creative and innovative, essentially by transitioning from a traditional firm to a design shop, at least in part. He identified several categories of change.

In the Flow of Work Life, move from ongoing tasks and permanent roles to projects with defined terms.

In the Style of Work, move from defined roles and waiting til its right to collaboration and iteration.

In the Mode of Thinking, move from deduction and induction to deduction, induction, and abduction (where you ask what might be)

In Status, move from managing big budgets and stuff to solving wicked problems.

In Attitude move from “only what we have budget for” and “constraints are the enemy” to “nothing can not be done” and “constraints increase challenge and excitement”

There wasn’t a ton of shocking new material in his presentation, but it’s a mostly clear framework that explains well. I was definitely reminded a great deal of the presentation that Tom Mulhern and I did back in 2004 at About, With, and For on Buttoned-Down Creativity.

It was a mostly-talking presentation, with a lot of big images that supported stories, so the slides are hardly stand-alone, but maybe worth a quick visit. I think Mulhern and I could have gone further and written an article or two; we still could, of course, because I think we had some good ideas and a more tactical and sympathetic approach than Martin is taking.


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