Articles in #design strategy


How can we prove that an investment in design correlates, or even causes, an increase in stock value? Marty Neumeier recently tweeted: „It seems to me that design investment is a leading indicator of higher profit margins and stock prices. Need to prove!“


It were tough times for me, being a designer and being employed at a company that defined it’s reasoning based on financial indications, like turnover, gross margin, return on investment and so on. Eventually also you, as a designer, have to define your reasoning according to such parameters. Unavoidably the question on the ‘return on investment’ (ROI) will pop-up,like “What do I get back for every Euro I spent on design? Tell me, what’s actually the ROI of design?”


Do you have leadership skills? If not, it’s going to be tough in future, because next to professional specialists (like electricians and plumbers) it are ‘leaders’ the economy is after! In view of the many, many wicked problems facing us, it takes true leaders to guide us into a better future.


It’s the time of the year so I was strolling along the local christmas market lately and passed by a craftsman who was weaving a basket. Somehow I was instantly impressed and stood still, starting to observe the activity of the basket-maker: his movements were swift and confident and he was even able to have a conversation with other observers, whilst craft-fully weaving this basket. All of a sudden he paused – he was about halfway finished with his piece – as if he felt something was not right: and indeed, the basketwork at the bottom had a different color as the one at the top, also the braid seemed thinner. So he pulled all apart and started over. Upon which an old lady couldn’t resist and mentioned how pity this was and that she’d never noticed – and that he was almost finished anyway. “Dear Madam, he replied, you have to this work with conviction!” Baskets, he added, one should only sell, if they’re tip-top. “If you can improve, you have to improve, even if it means to start all over. You cant sell inferior crap!” he finished off in a truly convincing manner and continued weaving. The older lady patiently waited till he was done and then bought the basket.


He was truly ‘special’, to say it mildly… but actually he was a true choleric, hysteric and narcissistic person, narrow minded, unforgiving and pungent according to many, many others. He would not let loose, he could be rude, direct and insensitive, but most of all he was obsessive – everything he did, and equally all others did for him, had to be perfect, nothing less. It had to be insanely great.

meta conductor

Within some companies the design, be it for products, communication or service, seems to be conceived and executed by one single person: all just fits together perfectly. But we know that many design activities take place to create this perfect picture. Those brands are a leading example to all other companies who have understood that a well orchestrated and holistic experience across all touch points solidifies their identity, and with that creates the basis for customer loyalty. Like to an orchestra playing out of tune, customers will turn away from companies, who are not able to harmonize the ‘interplay’ of their organizational parts to create a collective showing. Remember the story of the kitchen nightmare?