A business case for design thinking

Share this post:

designimageA delightful experience should be part of daily life. If we can elevate experience by enriching it with design, better business will result. We can draw inspiration from great architects and designers. As T.J. Watson Jr. said, “Good design is good business.”

In his introduction to Dr. Walter Gropius‘ 1965 essay, “The New Architecture and the Bauhaus,” design pioneer Frank Pick describes Gropius’ argument as “a plea for thinking out afresh the problems of building in terms of current materials and of current tools, tools which have become elaborated into machines.”

He continues:

It asks that what the past did for wood and brick and stone, the present shall do for steel and concrete and glass. It rightly claims that only out of such a fresh input of thought can a true architecture be established. What interests me still more, it proceeds to observe that what applies to architecture applies in those fields of design which relate to things of everyday use.

Mass production was “reconcilable with the individual artistic spirit,” Pick wrote. Everyday items could be artistically pleasing.

Great examples of modern and contemporary design

When someone has a pleasant interaction with an object or enjoys a visit to the museum, it creates a good feeling. This is especially true in a built environment, where form and function combine to deliver such an experience. Design is at the core of this. The designer intentionally applied technique, methodology, art and science for that outcome.

Some examples of designers whose work you may know include:

  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. “Mies” is associated with the aphorism “less is more.” Mies designed a number of modern high-rise office, towers including the IBM Plaza in Chicago.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright, whose philosophy was best exemplified by Fallingwater, a house with a waterfall built into it.
  • Le Corbusier, who prepared the master plan for the city of Chandigarh in India and designed several buildings there.
  • Eero Sarrinnen, who designed the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the TWA Flight Center at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport the main terminal of Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport. Saarinen also designed the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.
  • M. Pei, who designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
  • Frank Gehry, who designed the titanium-covered Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
  • Kenzō Tange, designer of the Tokyo Olympic arenas.
  • Zaha Hadid, who designed the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany; Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan; Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Guangzhou Opera House in Guangzhou, China.

Other great examples of design in other walks of life include Tesla in the automobile industry and Eames Design in furniture.

IBM history in design

IBM has a rich history in design. The tradition of design continues to be woven into the very fabric of IBM today and applied in how we develop our solutions in a renewed push. This IBM Think Academy video demonstrates the power of this approach.

The concept of design transcends information technology. The idea of a delightful experience is not restricted to human computer interface (HCI) or how we interact with an app. Design is applied to many aspects of our lives for the purpose of elevating, enhancing and enriching experiences. In the business context, where yield and premium on good design may be measured in hard numbers or loyalty, design has become especially important.

Another example borrowed from architecture is these exemplars of “tomorrow’s buildings,” which demonstrate the application of design in enhancing experiences, creating savings and enabling energy efficiency all at once.

I have a passion, strong interest and training in architecture and design. Art and science underscore good design: active listening, collaborative creation, creative thinking, empathy for the user, synergy between form and function, design execution, and aesthetics supported by solid principles of engineering are universally applicable in how we understand and deliver solutions to the clients and markets we serve. These principles can help in elevating and enriching the total quality of the user experience.

This is an interdisciplinary endeavor that can yield great business outcomes while delivering on the promise of a delightful and exceptional user experience.

More Infrastructure stories

French insurer teams with IBM Services to develop fraud detection solution

Auto insurance fraud costs companies billions of dollars every year. Those losses trickle down to policyholders who absorb some of that risk in policy rate increases. Thélem assurances, a French property and casualty insurer whose motto is “Thélem innovates for you”, has launched an artificial intelligence program, prioritizing a fraud detection use case as its […]

Continue reading

Cloud innovation in real estate: Apleona and IBM rely on new technologies

Digitization does not stop at the proverbial concrete gold — real estate. In fact, the real estate industry is on the move. Companies are realizing the benefits of digital transformation and are capitalizing on the power of new technologies such as cloud, AI and blockchain. Take, for example, Apleona GmbH, one of Europe’s largest real […]

Continue reading

Innovate with Enterprise Design Thinking in the IBM Garage

We’ve all been there. You have an amazing idea that’s really exciting. Maybe it’s a home improvement project, or perhaps it’s a new business idea. You think about all the details required to make it real. But, once you get to the seventh action item, you’re not so excited anymore. Sometimes when we realize the […]

Continue reading