Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Design, Deliver, Disrupt: Do You Get It?

Few companies really get it. Very few companies get it and are doing something about it. By “it” I mean the fact that commerce today is in a downward spiral and we need to do something big to get us out of our slump. Google gets it. With a mission to make the world a safer and more organised place their developing cars that drive themselves. That’s a lot more than a search engine or a mobile platform that a shift in humanity. We need more shifts in humanity.

Gap doesn’t get it. Commerce today is not about logos, brand and marketing anymore. Gap needs to make better jeans. Make awesome clothing and make it a good experience buying clothes from the Gap. Screw the logo conversation, the logo conversation hasn’t dropped your share price to less than a third of what it once was, your product and execution has. Gap needs to find a way make their products relevant again or focus on the things they do really well. In my own example, I haven’t bought anything from Gap for years. New brands are doing a much better job of affordable fashion.

The American carmakers – for the most part, Tesla may be an exception – don’t get it. The world we live in is not about bailouts and saving a percentage of a workforce, it’s about creating products that will change the way we view transportation to help create new value – and create new jobs. Today’s commerce doesn’t reward cost savings it rewards amazing engineering, execution and innovation. Today’s commerce rewards excitement. Most of the American carmakers are so focused and for decades have been focused on margins and marketing rather than coming up with life changing transportation that will truly revolutionise our world, and as a result most of the car makers will never get their growth back.

Here’s what I believe the big three factors are for companies today – disrupt, design and deliver. I call this my 3D.

Disrupt – Like Google
Shake things up constantly. Go Christensen on your own company. Take things apart; invest in building the next generation product or service even if it means destroying your cash cow today.

Design – Like Apple
If you’re going to make something, make it beautiful. Make it simple. Make it something people are proud of wearing like a badge. People make decisions largely based on aesthetics and if you make something crappy people will tell.

Deliver – Like Zappos
I’ve never bought shoes from, they don’t deliver to the UK yet. But when I lived in Switzerland I wrote to the company and they sent me their culture book. They deliver, whether it’s shoes or service or a smile. Experience is just as important as the customer service, whatever you do you need to deliver a bit of happiness to your customers in some way or another.

The truly successful companies of today and tomorrow will be focussed on these three factors; the others are focussing on their profits, logos and advertising campaigns. I don’t believe marketing and operational efficiency isn’t important, what I do believe is marketing is more effective and efficient when you have a truly remarkable product or service, unfortunately too many companies are focusing on their above the line campaigns or bottom line figures and not enough are focusing on what really matters to their customers.

Farhan Lalji is an entrepreneur and a new contributor to Bubblegeneration. Since leaving Yahoo! earlier this year, he’s been busy launching . He also blogs at fifty by fifty.

-- Farhan Lalji // 3:09 PM // 4 comments


I confess, this feels very tired to me, very "been there, done that". Sure, the 3Ds are great, but they're kinda like saying that all a rock band has to do is write songs people will love. And that's the problem: all of these ideas are way too subjective. The best companies have a wow factor sure, but they achieve it with operational excellence, Apple being a PRIME example. (A lot people forget or don't know, but when Jobs came back to Apple, he brought with him the manufacturing processes he had developed at Next and it is these processes and the discipline they require that account, in part, for Apple's insane profitability.)
// Anonymous Jeff Shattuck // 4:00 PM

Jeff - The manufacturing process is nice. But where would Apple have been without Jonny Ive - a lot of people forget that Steve Jobs might have come back but he also brought in Ive with him, Ive went on to design the iPod, iPhone, iPad, the macbook (including the unibody design). So while the manufacturing process is important, unless you have the design nailed you're manufacturing poor products.

"All a rock band has to do is right good songs people will love" - problem is even a band like U2 goes off the tracks with albums like Zooropa. The thing is the simplest solutions are not often pursued because their seen as being too simple. Banks, fashion, automotive and almost all industries overcomplicate their solutions and everyone suffers. We need to get back to simple solutions. And while it's subjective I'd suggest everyone knows a good product, a good design and a good customer experience.
// Blogger Farhan Lalji // 5:06 PM

The 3Ds is an interesting concept. But i think the major problem is outsourcing.
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// Blogger sanjeev // 4:58 AM

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