The following post is part of the course work for “Live Exchange” the foundational course on communication for The MBA Design Strategy Program at California College of the Arts. The rest of the posts are presented here.
By Ryan James
Like animals, businesses must eat to survive. What is it that dictates which end of the food chain your business is on?
New businesses enter the market place every year; some succeed and others get eaten alive. Every time a business enters the market it poses a threat to a competitor, on the other hand many businesses have exposed weaknesses making them vulnerable. Some companies know about these weaknesses while others do not. For example, Method Soap realized its competition’s weakness and attacked, creating the first environmentally friendly cleaning product line. This innovative approach to cleaning products has built a hundred million dollar business in about a decade.
Many aspects contribute to a business succeeding. I believe these include intuition, speed, and agility.
Design strategy helps companies cultivate new business methods and products through human-centered design. Focusing on peoples’ needs to create effective solutions that are targeted, tested and ready to succeed in today’s market, design strategy looks at economic trends and market conditions and analyzes the best methods and tools to succeed in today’s world and adapt to thrive in the world of tomorrow. Innovation plays a large role in design strategy. By utilizing intuition and out-of-the-box thinking, you can create unique business models and products that bring new offerings to the world.
INTUITION has a lot to do with a company’s ability to look into the future and adjust its strategy to compensate for changing market conditions and customer needs. It’s crucial to have a strong grip on where your business is and where it is going. When management trusts and exercises its intuition, the ability to outpace the competition is increased. CCA’s MBA in Design Strategy is teaching students how to use intuition to predict where current trends and human needs are and where they are going.
SPEED is measured by a company’s ability to bring ideas to market before its competitors. Your idea is useless unless you can get it to the finish line first. If a company can not out run the competition, it will fall prey to businesses that are nipping at its heels. A good example of this is Tesla – the company that beat the largest auto manufactures in creating the first completely electric highway ready sports car. Innovation is all about collaboration and opening ideas to the world, but if you don’t have the speed to get patents when needed or get your ideas to market you will get swallowed whole.
AGILITY is shown by the ability to adapt to changing markets and trends. Peoples’ needs and wants change over time and if you cannot keep up with what’s hot and ditch what’s not, you will see your business get tackled by its predators. Take the iPhone and Android for example – before 2007 Apple was foreign to the mobile phone industry. Shortly after Apple entered the market, Android launched in 2008. Currently, they have a combined market share of around 70% of the US smartphone market. They realized that current phone companies were slacking when it came to providing a memorable user experience for their clients. Blackberry’s US smartphone market share dropped from over 50% in 2008 to 9% in 2011. If companies like Blackberry used design strategy and innovation to address its clients’ needs, it would have the ability to put up a better fight for survival. CCA’s MBA in Design Strategy Innovation class teaches the value behind agility getting businesses to focus on changing markets and demands to keep up with trends and technology.
If your company cannot change it’s strategy to accommodate your clients’ changing demands and needs, someone else will fill that need. The more open your business is to change, the better equipped it will be out-maneuver its predators.