Business Design: A Misnomer

eight-ball

I just came from IDEO’s Tim Brown’s blog, Design Thinking, post on “A Curriculum for Business Design” and I can see his want to emphasize the need for design, but he misses the point.

I think the word “design” is becoming too much of a “to a hammer, every problem is a nail” conundrum. Every problem is not a design problem.  Business is very diverse.  What I would like to see is the following curriculum:

Business Science Inductive (Problems and Visions)
Business Science Deductive (Entrepreneurship and Leadership)
Business Design (Climates and Trends)
Business Engineering (Location and Movement)
Business Skill (Innovation and Professionalism)
Business Training (Imitation and Apprenticeship)
Business Education (Memorization and Theory)
Business Networking (Fraternity and Sorority)
Business Products (Culturing and Manufacturing)
Business Services (Sharing and Caring)
Business Marketing (Branding and Pricing)
Business Transactions (Closing and Accounting)

Design plays a part in solving every problem, but not every part of a problem is a design problem.

Let’s instill the diversity of business with design as part of the solution, not the only solution.

Oh, and if you call a problem an “issue”, that is another misnomer.  Problems are scientific and can be solved.  Issues are political and can never be solved.

Design: The Boyd Pyramid

theboydpyramid

Colonel John Boyd, who made his OODA Loop famous, was concerned with process, not perpective.  If he was he may have come up with the above diagram.  John was a fighter pilot in the Korean War.  He spent the rest of his life trying to understand and explain why he came back from his tours alive.  He was attempting to explain how to design survival.

Many designers are averse to the military and it is to their detriment.  For them I have to suggest participating in Emergency Management when the Incident Command System (ICS) is being applied.  Crisis eliminates any room for concensus or debate.

Part of my life involved hunting.  Also something many designers are averse to.  However, hunting taught me what John Boyd was trying to teach Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine so they would come home.  No video game can teach you what being in the field with a projectile weapon can teach you:

  1. Observation is the acquisition and recognition of targets.  In design this is detecting to find and fiat.  Art and Science.
  2. Orientation is compensating for climate and terrain.  In design this is designing to feel and fit.  Design and Engineering.
  3. Decision is choosing your operation and your weapon.  In design this is developing to function and form.  Skills and Tools.
  4. Action is either maneuvering or firing.  In design this is deploying to forum and foot.  Business and Market.

As you proceed through the process, your options are continually narrowing.  If your options are not narrowing you have recommenced the process at the same or another scale.

Your success not only depends on this sequence, but upon the speed you are able to execute it.  If you are able to cycle faster than your competition, they are acting on conditions that have already changed.