Customer Reviews


60 Reviews
5 star:
 (22)
4 star:
 (22)
3 star:
 (12)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and thought provoking.
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...
Published on January 24, 2009 by Alfredo Muccino

versus
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A tough sell, but worth a crack . . .
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,...
Published on January 11, 2009 by Robert Holland


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and thought provoking., January 24, 2009
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
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. For example, I loved the way that Marty re-invents the idea of aesthetics, and catapults it to an entirely new level that goes well beyond making things pretty. Marty's chart titled the "Aesthetics of Management" completely redefines the meaning of aesthetic principles in terms of business issues...and I will definitely be using this in future meetings and presentations (and, obsequiously credit the author). In this chart "Contrast" deals with "How do we differentiate ourselves?". "Depth" defines "How can we succeed at many levels". And, "Focus" refers to "What should we NOT do?".

Halfway through the book, Marty suggests that there are 16 "levers for change"...and that these "levers" hold the key to designing a new future for business. Apparently, you don't have to use all of them...and they need not be applied in any particular order. I found that some are more helpful than others...but I guess that this is exactly the point: Marty is inviting us to pick and choose which to use and which not to use...and therefore become the designers he invites us all to be.

In summary I really recommend this book to anyone interested in "designing" a better company, however, I found Marty Neumeier to be a little misleading when he described his book as a "quick read". That may very well be, but The Designful Company is far from light reading. It is a thought provoking, idea changing, extremely powerful book that will greatly influence the way I think about how design can change my company, the companies of my clients, and the world as a whole.

Read it and be ready to change your mind about a lot of things.

Alfredo Muccino
Chief Creative Officer
Liquid Agency | Brand Marketing
[...]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
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.)

According to Neumeier, a designful company inserts "making" between "knowing" and "doing." Its designers don't actually solve problems. They "work through" them. They use non-logical processes that are difficult to express in words but easier to express in action. They use models, mockups, sketches, and stories as their vocabulary. They operate in the space between "knowing" and "doing," prototyping new solutions that arise from their four strengths of empathy [i.e. understanding the motivations of stakeholders to forge stronger bonds], intuition [a shortcut to understanding situations], imagination [new ideas are generated by divergent thinking, not convergent thinking], and idealism [an obsession with getting it right, obtaining what is missing, making whatever changes may be necessary, etc.]. One of Neumeier's most important points is that any organization (regardless of its size or nature) needs designers at all levels and in all areas of its operations. "To build an innovative culture, a company must keep itself in a perpetual state of reinvention. Radical ideas must be the norm, not the exception...Companies don't fail because they choose the wrong course--they fail because they can't imagine a better one."

As is also true of two predecessors, The Brand Gap and Zag, The Designful Company is a "whiteboard overview" rather than a traditional book in terms of both its design and content. Although Neumeier's unorthodox approach will no doubt irritate some people, I think his approach is both appropriate and effective. To those who are thinking about purchasing this book, I presume to offer several suggestions. Keep in mind that the presentation of Neumeier's counterintuitive ideas requires the format and illustrations selected. He offers a briefing on options to consider when designing and then building a culture of nonstop innovation. It remains for readers to work their way through the material in whatever order works best for them. Read all of the customer reviews of it that Amazon features. (FYI, I never read other reviews until after I have submitted my own.) This is not a book for everyone, nor does Neumeier make any such claim.

If you read the book and then decide to act upon several of his suggestions, be prepared to encounter what James O'Toole has aptly characterized as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Radical ideas and their advocates are perceived to be--and they are--serious threats to those who defend the status quo. Neumeier has much of value to say about the power of effective storytelling when attempting to engage others in change initiatives. He correctly observes that stories aligned with key messages should be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, and emotional. (Please see Pages 88-95.) I also highly recommend books on business narratives written by Stephen Denning (The Leader's Guide to Storytelling), Doug Lipman (Improving Your Storytelling), and Annette Simmons (The Story Factor).

As these brief remarks indicate, I think this is Marty Neumeier's most important--indeed his most valuable--book thus far because he addresses issues that are relevant to an organization's entire culture whereas, previously, he focused on a specific organizational imperative such as bridging the distance between business strategy and customer experience with five interconnected disciplines or using the first and most strategic of those disciplines to achieve radical differentiation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, March 25, 2009
By 
M. Bergeron "Muziclvr" (Colchester, VT United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Designful Company: How to Build a Culture of NonStop Innovation written by Marty Neumeier was an entertaining, interesting and eye-opening read. The third in a series of books (The Brand Gap and Zag are the other two) that are great examples of graphic information design, TDC emphasizes the importance of design within general business. Neumeier uses imagery, case studies and data to build the case for incorporating more "designful" thinking throughout your organization. His main point is that traditional business is design blind. "Unfortunately, most business managers are deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to creative process. They learned their chops by rote, through a bounded tradition of spreadsheet-based theory. As one MBA joked, in his world, the language of design is a sound only dogs can hear" (p. 26) Throughout the book he emphasizes the importance of moving the creative eye out of the "create pretty images" space and incorporating it into problem solving, strategic planning and implementation of ideas. It's vital to do this, according to Neumeier because we are now faced with "Wicked Problems" that require a new way of thinking and a different approach from the status quo. This book is a quick read that brings forth important points about wholistic approaches to business problem solving. The author includes great visuals to help explain his points -- something that is very important. The book features a set of "take home messages" that boil down the main points. Overall an excellent, well-written and interesting book that all business leaders should read. 5 stars
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Big Words, Little Utility, January 3, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The author aims to "knock Six Sigma off its perch" but utterly fails to understand what has made the Six Sigma movement successful.

As a quality professional for the past 15 years, I've seen quality fads come and go. Quality Circles, Total Quality Management, yadda yadda yadda---all had good ideas, sound tools, and petered out quickly.

Six Sigma is the most labor and time-intensive of all quality approaches, and yet it is the one which "stuck." How come?

Simple---Six Sigma focused from the outset not just on improving quality, but on linking quality improvement to quantifiable bottom-line results.

We're witnessing the growth of business interest in design, led in part by the Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) methodology's widespread adoption. The author has nothing positive to say about Six Sigma, instead giving lots of happy talk about design which sound very familiar to this quality geek: we must change our culture, we must have top-down buy-in, we must free experts to do what they do best, etc.

What's missing is the how and why.

I'm still waiting for the design revolution book that will make this case.

I highly recommend that anyone attempting to do so first follow carefully the work of information designer Edward Tufte. Not only does he demonstrate how to apply sound principles in the design of visual displays of quantitative information, but he walks his own talk. His books are marvels of the very design principles he advances.

Not so this book, which is not so much designed but compiled as an advertisement for the author's consulting company.

It fails even in this regard, for the nebulous discussion and unclear methodology lead me to believe that this company has chosen to measure customer delight in terms of billable hours.

Just like every other consulting company.

Avoid this waste of time and ink.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cutting cubes out of clouds, March 7, 2009
By 
Chris Grams (Raleigh, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
I'm a big fan of Neumeier's work- especially The Brand Gap, which has been a key bit of inspiration for us in the Brand Communications + Design group at Red Hat. The Designful Company is subtitled "How to build a culture of nonstop innovation," and there are some pretty great ideas within on how to do exactly that.

It is clear that Neumeier is well read and well traveled in the right circles. He draws upon ideas from many current innovation thought leaders, including Gary Hamel, Roger Martin, Sam Lucente, Steve Jobs, and more. In fact, the recommended reading list in the back of the book is worth the price of the book itself.

In the book, Neumeier is attacking the 20th century management model right alongside Gary Hamel (go check out The Future of Management). One of my favorite quotes:

"In the meantime, we are seeing the breakdown of a management model so bereft of ideas that it has resorted to 'unlocking' wealth through financial manipulation rather than 'creating' wealth through designful innovation. [Richard] Boland suggests that Enron's failure was not only a failure of ethics but a failure of imagination."

That phrase "a failure of imagination" blows me away because it perfectly captures some of my biggest fears. That we as a country and as a society are strip-mining our existing ideas rather than planting the seeds for the ideas of the future. We need to create a culture of sustainable innovation, where you can't use up all of the old ideas until you have nurtured the new ones well on their way to adulthood.

The best and most innovative companies out there today seem to get it. And it appears that the US government might even be starting to get it. But years of idea strip-mining have taken their toll on everything from healthcare, to education, to energy issues.

Another favorite quote from the book:

"The journey of the innovator, as one designer described it, is learning how to 'cut cubes out of clouds.' How can you give sharp edges to a soft concept so everyone can see it? How can you make the intangible tangible? It's folly to predict revenues, costs, profits, or market share for a product concept or business model that has yet to be introduced. But it is also folly to launch it without a modicum of intellectual rigor. In the end, ALL innovations get measured- by the marketplace."

If you are only going to read one book by Marty Neumeier, I'd still get The Brand Gap. It will change the way you think forever. But The Designful Company is a great, short read, and an accessible guide to some of the smartest current thinking around the role of design in creating cultures of innovation. Heck, why choose? Buy `em both!

[...]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A shift in thinking to keep pace with fast moving markets, January 2, 2009
By 
John W. Graham (Orlando, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Designful Company is a book about building a culture of design that keeps pace with fast moving markets. The basic premise of this book is that today's so-called "Wicked" problems cannot effectively be solved using outmoded paradigms such as top-down design, Six Sigma and the cold and emotionless "Vulcan-like" management style that currently dominates most companies. This book contends that the traditional business model, lead by countless deaf, dumb and blind stuffed-shirts inhibits and even destroys the creative process in all its manifestations.

Through a transition to what the author calls a "design mentality", divergent thinkers can overcome the gap between vision and reality by employing creative thinking in a holistic thinking process that spurs creativity. An open environment conducive to creativity and free identification of impediments is the key to overcoming the assassins of innovation.

I find this book to be somewhat idealistic. I work in the DoD Modeling & Simulation sector, where creative thinking and a design mentality should prosper, yet the creative process is thwarted everywhere it sprouts up. Six Sigma is a coveted end-state rather than a lean thinking paradigm and managers pride themselves on squashing innovation in favor of doing things "the way they have always been done". An overwhelming fear of failure, a total aversion to unpredictability and a consuming fascination with status (usually in the form of Excel worksheets) coupled with peter principle promotions and compartmentalization of knowledge keeps the whole industry dumbed-down and laying in wait for the next big top down concept.

Fortunately, the design-first mentality is making its way into academia, at least in Computer Science curriculum. Some small start-up companies embrace the concepts brought forth by the author, but these companies are usually quickly bought up and merged into a larger, less effective conglomerate. I tend to agree with the overarching theme of this book but I personally find that the corporations I deal with do not provide sufficient time to think (i.e. design) due to schedule constraints and the need to satisfy the next big metric milestone. PowerPoint slides are still the norm everywhere you look and there is no visible move underway to quell the usage of PPT in favor of the alternatives suggested in this book.

Overall, it will be difficult to transition enough major players toward the suggested design mentality. As long as "the numbers" are being met, there is not sufficient reason to adopt any new paradigms, even if those paradigms could lead to unprecedented amounts of additional revenue and brand recognition. As we continue to move forward in a world with more demanding requirements and less funding to act on them, this shift in thinking will eventually align with the concepts brought forth in this book. My only real complaint with the book is that it should present more concrete methodologies on how to nudge existing "total quality, top down" based corporations toward the culture of design.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick "Airplane" Read - taking branding one step further, December 31, 2008
By 
Joseph J. Slevin (Carlsbad, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There is more and more emphasis on design in companies today and for good reason, it works. The Designful Company goes through a process and some steps and recommendations to get an organization to go from doing to designing. Neumeier attempts to talk to those who work the spreadsheets and to get them to think beyond excel and even powerpoint to inspire a new mind frame in getting work done.

He quotes Deming somewhat to get people to view things from beyond just quality, design means inspiring people to give their best, thereby getting the best possible products and services to your customers. The focus is the short term thinking of so many organizations, thinking from quarter to quarter, however, companies like Apple and Samsung have gone beyond that to ask for and to get a much larger market share due to great design. He features other great companies including Jet Blue.

Frankly, this read has a lot of great ideas. Due to its brevity, it may lack a little of the punch to tip someone in the favor of his idea. Large print, quick, short chapters make it even a quicker read. The price is worth it due to all of the content, yet I feel that most who may read this are those in Marketing, Communications and yes, Design. Like the recent book, 'Do You Matter?' the appeal is intended to be wider, but may not get the excitement of many who work the numbers.

Neumeier uses and reconstructs the Shewart Cycle to add design, assess, recognize and teach. He encourages us to work toward a workplace of win/win and for those with great ideas to work as a team, even the Lone Ranger had a side kick....

With the obvious results staring us in the face as to where our modern management practices have taken us, an emphasis on design for the customer, not just any design, stuff that works, is really where things need to get to.

Short and concise, a definate read for anyone in management. Anyone from the Board Room to the workspace need to review this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book About Design as a Strategy for Innovation, January 29, 2009
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very interesting book by the same author who wrote The Brand Gap and Zag. Honestly I liked The Brand Gap much better.

The title is a bit misleading because the first part of the book focuses on establishing Design not as a term for aesthetic beauty ("design's key measurement should be performance, not styling") but for innovation ("design is improving a situation").

The rest of the book talks about how design (experience design, really) is about change which is a proxy for innovation. The book seems to try to make the case for design as a management discipline. Then it provides a few points to guide people on how to change (or innovate, or design...). I especially liked the summary of ideas in the back which serves as a quick re-read for reference and a summary of the entire book in a few pages.

I disagree wth the author on a few points, for example "integrity is the quality of standing out from the background". To me integrity is about being authentic: doing what you say and saying what you do. What the author describes is really about uniqueness or differentiation. Still, I found it to be an interesting and though-provoking book. Other times I found the text to be confusing, maybe even contradictory.

At times the book feels too academic, and the writing style is "unique", sometimes it feels like there is no story and is hard to understand what the author is trying to get at. Then you realize this is not supposed to be a traditional book but a collection of ideas or as the author describes, a "whiteboard discussion".

Overall a good book, but I would recommend "Do You Matter" over this book. It is a much better book which makes the point of experience design as a critical strategy in a much more effective way and offers more practical advice on how to build a design-driven company.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Building a Company on Inventiveness, January 23, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Marty Neumeier's THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY is a "concept book" for grown-ups. In children's literature, a concept book is one that teaches children a basic concept like tying shoelaces. Neumeier's book teaches the fundamental importance of design to the vitality and success of a company. Even the layout of the book evokes the aesthetic simplicity of children's concept books. The author presents his ideas in bold black type with lots of graphics interspersed throughout the text. The book is designed to have a lot of white space. Neumeier calls it an "airplane book," "a quick read" that he describes as "designed to deliver solid insights for years to come."

THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY is largely successful in conveying the importance of design in the world of business. Neumeier explains that by "design" he means something much more than producing an aesthetically pleasing product. At its most elemental level, design is change; a designer is "anyone who tries to change an existing situation to an improved one." Good design also embodies values. Good design might be characterized as a kind of ethical inventiveness.

Especially towards the end of his book, after the more general discussion of design, Neumeier presents a number of very practical ideas. The ideas aren't necessarily original; Neumeier gives credit to a number of previous writers on creativity, innovation and design for such suggestions as avoiding PowerPoint or at least rethinking the way it's used, and for the use of the 10% solution (having employees use one day out of every two weeks to develop new ideas) and genius teams. Some of the ideas Neumeier shares with the reader are too complicated for a quick treatment (even with good graphics), e.g., stage-gate investing and deep design. But overall these cursory treatments in the book do not detract too much from the value of the overall presentation.

At times I found the prose to be a bit leaden, and the large, stark black type against the white pages, intended to enhance clarity, often had the opposite effect on me. In the end, though, I found much to take away from the book. It's a good sign of the book's usefulness that I wrote down several ideas to take with me to the office, and that it got me to rethink some of the challenges I face there.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation
The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation by Marty Neumeier (Paperback - December 26, 2008)
$34.99 $21.08
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.