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The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (AIGA Design Press) [Kindle Edition]

Marty Neumeier
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Part manifesto, part handbook, THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY provides a lively overview of a growing trend in management–design thinking as a business competence. According to the author, traditional managers have relied on a two-step process to make decisions, which he calls “knowing” and “doing.” Yet in today’s innovation-driven marketplace, managers need to insert a middle step, called “making.” Making is a phase in which assumptions are questioned, futures are imagined, and prototypes are tested, producing a wide range of options that didn’t exist before. The reader is challenged to consider the author’s bold assertion: There can be no real innovation without design. Those who are new to Marty Neumeier’s “whiteboard” series may want to ramp up with the first two books, THE BRAND GAP and ZAG. Both are easy reads.

- the top 10 “wicked problems” that only design can solve
- a new, broader definition of design
- why designing trumps deciding in an era of change
- how to harness the “organic drivetrain” of value creation
- how aesthetics add nuance to managing
- 16 levers to transform your company
- why you should bring design management inside
- how to assemble an innovation metateam
- how to recognize and reward talent

From the back cover:
The complex business problems we face today can’t be solved with the same thinking that created them. Instead, we need to start from a place outside traditional management. Forget total quality. Forget top-down strategy. In an era of fast-moving markets and leap-frogging innovations, we can no longer “decide” the way forward. Today we have to “design” the way forward–or risk ending up in the fossil layers of history. Marty Neumeier, author of THE BRAND GAP and ZAG, presents the new management engine that can transform your company into a powerhouse of nonstop innovation.

Editorial Reviews


Garr Reynolds on The Designful Company

Branding guru Marty Neumeier understands that we are all very busy, so he crafts his books to make a big impact in less than 200 pages. His previous bestsellers, The Brand Gap and Zag are provocative, informative, and inspirational books that I use every semester in the Marketing class I teach. Like his previous books, The Designful Company is a lesson in simple, clear, and beautiful presentation, and the contents are a powerful complement to his earlier ideas.

Early in this book, Marty makes the case for the power of design and aesthetics and why they matter today more than ever. Innovation and design are key in the transformation of an organization; everyone says "innovation" matters. The term has become a mere platitude, a sort of tag-line for many organizations. In the book Marty explains how to actually build a culture of change that embraces design by focusing on 16 key levers such as weaving a story, bringing design management inside the organization, introducing parallel thinking, recognizing talent and creativity, and more.

One of the levers of change that I found particularly interesting (obviously, given what I do for a living) was the lever #8: "Ban PowerPoint." This is, ban the awful, death-by-PowerPoint approach and replace it with a more engaging and powerful presentation method. If you have an innovative company that truly understands design and creative collaboration, then you have to abandon the dull, lifeless, and typical PowerPoint presentation for compelling stories and conversations that are visual, simple (without being overly simplistic), and memorable.

"If a business is really a decision factory, then the presentations that inform those decisions determine their quality," says Marty. But a change in presentation approach is only a small part of the transformation. This book is about how to kick-ass though a greater understanding of your potential for creative collaboration.

I highly recommend The Designful Company. Even seasoned marketing, branding, and design pros will find the book an inspirational refresher with concrete ideas. And if this is your first Marty Neumeier book, you'll be blown away. Wonderful, fresh content and a little book that is a visual tour de force.

Garr Reynolds is the creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net. Garr’s book, Presentation Zen, features a foreword from Guy Kawasaki and is endorsed by such industry luminaries as Seth Godin. Together his Web site and book have fundamentally changed the way people around the world create and give presentations.

“The first important book of the year. In the tradition of IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE and BUILT TO LAST, THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY changes the way we think about business. During these challenging times, when doors are shutting all around us, Neumeier’s book opens a big window.”

“In another short but very sweet book, Neumeier introduces us the aesthetics of management. The Designful Company makes a great contribution to our understanding of design as a core business competence.”

“If this is your first Marty Neumeier book, you'll be blown away. Wonderful, fresh content presented as a visual tour de force.”

“Form follows function?  Form is function!  In The Designful Company, Marty Neumeier lays out a powerful case that business innovation is a byproduct of design thinking. Follow these rules and your company can innovate faster, collaboratively and continuously.”

“Design thinking has the potential to step-change all aspects of innovation in business. When you need a disruption, when market dynamics are changing, when new sources of growth are needed—companies that focus on design have a competitive edge.”

“At last! A book that clearly articulates how and why design is absolutely fundamental to the success of business today. Chock-full of great insights.”

“No filler. No fluff. Marty Neumeier has distilled his message on innovation and design down to just the good stuff.  Read the whole book on your next flight, and arrive with fresh insights ready to share.”

“In the first half of this book Neumeier presents a good argument for the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the designful company and in the second half he gives us a decent prototype for the ‘how’. If you don’t see that calling it a ‘decent prototype’ constitutes high praise, you need this book.”

Required reading for addressing “wicked problems”!

About the Author

Marty Neumeier's professional mission is to "incite business revolution by unleashing the power of design thinking." He does this by writing books, conducting workshops, and speaking internationally about the power of brand, innovation, and design. His bestselling "whiteboard" books include THE BRAND GAP, ZAG, and THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY. His video, MARTY NEUMEIER'S INNOVATION WORKSHOP, combines highlights from all three books into a hands-on learning experience. Marty serves as Director of Transformation at Liquid Agency, and divides his writing time between California and southwest France.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1455 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (March 30, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028MBKBQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,833 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and thought provoking. January 24, 2009
I find that Marty Neumeier's books (and I will refer to him as Marty, from here on) raise more questions than they provide answers...and it is my experience that they stimulate great professional dialogue and a fair share of stimulating thinking. And "The Designful Company" is no exception.

In this book, Marty proposes big ideas in simple words that leave you wanting for more (in a good way). As a branding expert with a career that spans over 25 years in this profession, I have read few books that are more inspiring or thought provoking.

The premise of The Designful Company is that in order to gain control of a company's future we need to embrace the practice of design. Of course, in Marty's language "design" is a very powerful transformational tool that does a lot more than just "styling". Instead, Marty's design is about process and people and ideas driven by a desire to improve "performance" not aesthetics. He completely re-designs the idea of design.

Within our business, I've always insisted that "design" has little or nothing to do with "art". I believe that design is about creating purposeful change for the better...and I think that for design to be effective one must have a clear set of goals. In his book, Marty argues that the ultimate goal of a sustainable business is long term profit....and design is the starting point for a chain reaction that goes something like this: Design drives innovation; innovation powers brand development; brand builds loyalty; and loyalty results in profits.

Of course, I don't agree with everything that Marty proposes...but there's plenty in the book that I found to be intriguing and inspiring.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A tough sell, but worth a crack . . . January 11, 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Marty Neumeier calls his books "whiteboard overviews" and indeed in format they attempt to avoid long stretches of gray and make their points without elaborate argument or proof. In this book, Neumeier attempts to come at contemporary corporate cultures as they face our breakneck markets, and convince us all that we need to be more creative and innovative. You might say, "Duh."

The problem, though, is not that we lack creativity, but that the corporate cultures we build up around innovative products and services soon stifle that creativity in the name of control, power, and ego. Thus the GMs of this world, where new ideas have not been seen since your father's Oldsmobile, are dying under the weight of what they have built.

Neumeier's theory sets out the proposition that if we put design (in a broadened definition) at the forefront of our priorities and our processes, we can build companies that can respond to the innovative demands of the culture. This means rescuing the high creatives from their pigeonhole of "exotic menials" in a "professional ghetto" and empowering them. As someone who is probably regarded as such an "exotic menial" in a highly bureaucratic, hierarchical organization, I can only say "good luck." It may be better to let natural selection do its work.

Still, Neumeier makes an appealing if not compelling case, and offers a good many useful ideas for techniques to break down barriers to innovation. The book is, if nothing else, a good conversation starter.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neumeier's most valuable book so far January 7, 2009
Those of us who have read Marty Neumeier's The Brand Gap (2003) and/or Zag (2006) realize that he has a tough act to follow: himself. In these previously published "whiteboard overview" books, he shared his thoughts about the gap "between logic and magic," and then zoomed in to help readers "build a sustainable competitive advantage." He explained how and why, when focus is paired with differentiation, supported by a trend, and surrounded by compelling communications, "you have the basic ingredients of a zag"--in other words, a point of radical differentiation. In his most recent book, Neumeier briefly reviews these and other key ideas before shifting his attention to the challenge of organizing a company for agility by developing a "designful mind": that is, a perspective that enables decision-makers to invent the widest range of solutions for the "wicked problems" now facing their company, their industry, and their world.

Neumeier is president of Neutron, a San Francisco-based firm, that designs and facilitates culture-change programs that spur innovation. In co-sponsorship with Stanford University, his firm conducted a survey to identify "wicked problems"--problems so persistent, pervasive, or slippery that they seem insoluble. Ten are listed on Page 2 and range from "balancing long-term goals with short-term demands" to "aligning strategy with customer experience." In this book, Neumeier explains how to establish and then sustain a culture of nonstop innovation, one that is guided and informed by a discipline of design so that it generates nonstop solutions to whatever wicked problems it may encounter. (Note: The solution process must be nonstop in response to constant changes of the nature and/or extent of each problem to be solved.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Valuable Read Over and Over
I have read this book several times. It always gets me thinking on the right path and re inspired. It will never become irrelevant.
Published 11 months ago by Debra Bates-Schrott
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and interesting
I really enjoyed this book. It's a quick read, and gives insightful tips on how to use design thinking in your organization. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Stephen J. Carlson
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book on how design helps business
This book is very easy to read and digest. It makes a very compelling case for how all types of businesses can benefit from design thinking, and provides strategies for doing so. Read more
Published on October 31, 2011 by Olivia
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Concept
I love reading this book.
It comes with great concepts.
To put it into work, one may require more concrete steps to follow.
Published on August 21, 2011 by Jimmy Wang
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Information; Poorly Designed Book
This is a fascinating book in terms of the information provided, however, the design of the book itself is distracting and made it difficult to review. Read more
Published on January 27, 2011 by Steven K. Szmutko
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but maybe I'm already there
The Designful Company contains good analysis and encouragement on how to move individuals and a company toward a culture of design thinking. Read more
Published on December 17, 2009 by S. Nay
4.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward and almost predictable. Kinda what I expected
I'll keep it brief and to the Marty Neumeier style. Great insight, somewhat repetitive, a bit on the abstract and philosophical side. Read more
Published on December 2, 2009 by LosBrands
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Take on Design and Management
It wasn't that long ago that a company could manufacture a mediocre product and use mass advertising to succeed in the marketplace. Read more
Published on August 25, 2009 by Luis Maimoni
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Easy read.
I found this book easy to read and full of inspirational information. This book helps to bridge the gap between designers and non designers. Read more
Published on August 20, 2009 by German Vasquez Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating a culture of innovation
Another terrific little tome by Marty Neumeier. I wish more authors of design and business books would take his 'whiteboard overview' approach and condense the topic into a clear,... Read more
Published on August 3, 2009 by Jeffrey A. Melton
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More About the Author

Marty Neumeier is a designer, writer, and business adviser whose mission is to bring the principles and processes of creativity to industry. His latest book, METASKILLS, explores the five essential talents that will drive innovation in the 21st century. His previous series of "whiteboard" books includes THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY, about the role of design in corporate innovation; ZAG, named one of the "top hundred business books of all time" for its insights into radical differentiation; and THE BRAND GAP, considered by many the foundational text for modern brand-building. He has worked closely with innovators at Apple, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, HP, Adobe, Google, and Microsoft to advance their brands and cultures. Today he serves as Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency, and travels extensively as a workshop leader and speaker on the topics of innovation, brand, and design. Between trips, he and his wife spend their time in California and southwest France.

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