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Business Design

Books to Grow By was a Comanche Marketing article listing a portion of my favorite marketing authors. Inspired by your positive feedback I list here today my favorite authors from the field of design. Well, not exactly.

Why? Because I’m not sure there is one field of design. Design is integral to ductwork and dresses. It incorporates industrial, graphic and architectural sectors. Design is multi and interdisciplinary, it should not be restricted to one field.


What is design? If you were to ask one-hundred people who are involved in design you’d get two-hundred different definitions. Please suspend your what is design question for the time being and continue on.

My interest in design revolves around Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset. While you will not often see Dweck’s name mentioned in the design conversation, people with a growth mindset believe that through dedication and hard work they can develop and improve upon their abilities.


Tim Brown - Tim is the CEO and President of IDEO, one of the most innovative design companies in the world. His seminal book is Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. This book is a window into the soul of a design rich company culture. It answers the question: What does a company look like when it’s led by design.


Robert Brunner & Stewart Emery - Their book Do You Matter? How great design will make people love your company, establishes the design-led relationship between customer and company. Brunner, the former Director of Industrial Design for Apple, illustrates how applied design weaves in and out of every important customer touch point and related experiences.

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Roger Martin - Martin is the former Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. His book The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage, was a beacon of credibility in the late 2000’s when those who thought design was the next business fad and other such naysayers reared up on their hind haunches and yipped, yapped and barked at those trying to blaze trails past the status-quo.


30 second timeout - (You feeling March madness too?). We’ve mentioned the word design thinking a few times already. As with design, I encourage you to not get too caught up in the name. Better instead to think: Engage empathy and unleash creativity to develop one’s ability, to make stuff and make stuff better. After sufficient immersion, if you still feel the need for names, create your own.


Dan Pink - Dan’s 2005 book A Whole New Mind is the book that introduced me to design. Pink bases his case on Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning and shows how these aptitudes relate to professional and personal success. A Whole New Mind showed me how to look at the world through the lens of design. After reading it in 2005 I began to carry a camera with me everywhere I went. The camera nudged my power of observation which in turn helped my writing.


Tom & David Kelley - David is the founder of IDEO and the creator of the d.school at Stanford University. Tom is an IDEO partner and author of the books The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation. Tom & David wrote Creative Confidence together.


Marty Neumeier - Looking through the lens of 21st century business and how companies evolve, MaThe Designful Company.jpgrty
defines design as change. Find a situation worth improving and work through the creative process. His book The Designful Company is a piercingly clear and simple cultural overlay of design and innovation on business today. Neumeier is also my number one source when it comes to all things branding.


Emily Pilloton - Emily is my hero! Graduating from college in 2003, she went on to found Project H, Studio H, Girls Garage and Unprofessional Development. Emily says, “We teach young people to design and build their future using hearts, hands and hammers.” Her book Design Revolution introduces her thinking on how design can change the world. It was written prior to her work with students and serves as a launching point into her Studio H universe.


Why can’t we get young people interested in the trades? If you ask this question and do not know of Emily Pilloton, you need to vaporize the fence that is corralling your mind. Milwaukee, Ryobi and Lincoln Electric sponsor her work. So does Lenovo, SanDisk and the Adobe Foundation. Blue collar and tech industries.

Design is the bonding agent that binds Emily’s educational and community efforts.

Immerse yourself into Emily’s Studio H and Project H worlds. There you’ll find a universe of getting-young-folks-into-our-profession ideas. The only things we’re lacking? The deep pockets to fuel change.


Bruce Nussbaum - A former Business Week journalist and early-on design thinking advocate, Nussbaum published Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect and Inspire in 2013. Bruce advances creative intelligence as a method for problem solving and driving innovation. He blogs for Fast Company and Harvard Business Review.


Donald Norman - A prolific design author and famous for his book the Design of Everyday Things, Norman’s areas of expertise are design, usability engineering and cognitive science. User-centered design is an underlying theme to his work which began in the early 1960’s.


Bill Moggridge - A pioneer in human centered design, Moggridge was a co-founder of IDEO. His book Designing Interactions is a who’s who, including people like Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, of Interaction Design. Moggridge passed away in 2012 when he was the director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.


The following are three books I also recommend.

This is Service Design Thinking - This book takes an interdisciplinary approach combining different methods and tools from various disciplines. It’s a structured yet creative approach to making your service useful, efficient, usable, effective and desirable.

Universal Principles of Design - For the true student of design.

Design as a Catalyst for Learning - Published in 1997, this is a fascinating look at a design approach to learning. While it uses design and problem solving language for classroom purposes, it’s one minor imaginative stepping stone away from the world of business. As a matter of fact, a contractor can invest six or seven bucks and have all they need to design a problem solving process for their company.


“Design Thinking was a business fad that didn’t work.”

When looking at the overall collective of companies that tried to adopt a Design Thinking methodology, this was true. The overarching problem was that company leaders tried to put DT into a nice, neat and tidy Six Sigma box. There is nothing nice, neat and tidy about any form of design and the creative process. The status-quo executives cried for a quick fix process. And before their tears dried (or they worked up a sweat) DT was labeled a fad.


Brave leadership - Of course not all organizations were led by tearful, timid and trepid souls. Pepsico, Procter and Gamble, the Mayo Clinic and Intuit are examples of companies that embraced the design mindset.


If you’re interested in business design I suggest reading The Designful Company, Change by Design and Creative Confidence first. If you have the courage to block out the cry of naysayers and actually delve into design, I suggest concentrating on user empathy and unleashing creativity (along with various design based processes) to develop one’s ability, to make stuff and make stuff better.

I am in perpetual search of any HVAC, Plumbing and or other contractors that have adopting a design thinking approach. Please reach out to me if you have.

Topics: Business Design

Posted by Dave Rothacker on Mar 5, 2017 4:56:00 AM

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