Management by Meaning – Roberto Verganti – Harvard Business Review


Roberto Verganti is a regular often quoted on this blog. Probably because for me his book is still relevant as it was 2 years ago. Hope u like his design driven innovation approach too.

Found at Steve Jobs and Management by Meaning – Roberto Verganti – Harvard Business Review.

Steve Jobs has always been considered an anomaly in management; his leadership style was something to admire or to criticize

Read all at Steve Jobs and Management by Meaning – Roberto Verganti – Harvard Business Review.

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Quantity vs. Quality in Collaborations – Roberto Verganti – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review

Ins 2009, I would recommend u reading Roberto Verganti’s Design Driven Innovation. And yes, Morten Hansen’s  Collaboration. But is summer 2011, and I still recommend u to read these books.

Found at Quantity vs. Quality in Collaborations – Roberto Verganti – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

“I can’t do that! I would receive thousands of ideas!” said Alberto Alessi, CEO of the Italian company that’s famous for the design of its home products. “Well, isn’t that exactly the point?” I replied. I was interviewing Alessi, together withHarvard Business School professor Gary Pisano, about the potential of the new forms of collaborations enabled by the web.

Read more at Quantity vs. Quality in Collaborations – Roberto Verganti – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

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What can Design do for Business Innovation?

Judy Garland

In 2009 I loved Robert Verganti’s book Design driven innovation. Great to watch this interview.

The UK Design Council has produced a nice little video interview with the likes of IDEO’s Paul Bennett and Professor Roberto Verganti (of Design Driven Innovation fame) sharing their thoughts on what is design and what design can do for businesses.

Plenty of nice anecdotes and quote worthy comments. However, the video might be a little confusing for the uninitiated in design as the comments are very wide ranging and strategic. If you are interested the full transcript for this video can be found here.

Via: Ingo Rauth and

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Blogging Innovation » Book Review and Innovation Summary – “Design-Driven Innovation”

Having promoted Design driven innovation from Roberto Verganti on this blog in the last quarters, I was tempted and could not resisted another review. Great post to read and yes – reading the book – should be imperative.

Found at Blogging Innovation » Book Review and Innovation Summary – “Design-Driven Innovation”.

by Braden Kelley

Book Review and Innovation Summary - "Design-Driven Innovation"A few weeks ago I received “Design-Driven Innovation” by Roberto Verganti in the mail. “Design-Driven Innovation” is an approachable 230 pages, and is an easy, and pleasant read.

Roberto Verganti is Professor of Management of Innovation Politecnico di Milano and the founder of PROject Science.

If you’ve read books on innovation, they’ve probably been treatises or essays on the topic from a traditional process or strategy angle. “Design-Driven Innovation” is something different. The book is focused on the idea that businesses have the opportunity not just to create innovations that are technology push or market pull (user-centered), but also to create innovations that make meaning.

Design-driven innovation is more about understanding the real meanings that users give to things then about understanding their needs. This is not some new jargon for needs-based or jobs-to-be-done innovation, and while for some people the distinction that design-driven innovation offers may be too subtle, for others it will seem like touchy-feely poppycock. For me it was pure bliss because it is all about insight.

To be continued at

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Reading User-Centered Innovation Is Not Sustainable by Roberto Verganti @Harvard Business Review

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Image by Look Into My Eyes via Flickr

User-Centered Innovation Is Not Sustainable – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Last week I was in London at “The Big Rethink” conference ofThe Economist. Its goal was to explore the challenges of facing the world after the recession and how innovation and design could help address them. It came as no surprise that one of the more pressing problems mentioned was sustainable growth, especially the reduction of resource consumption and the protection of the environment. What did surprise me, however, was that many experts were still supporting user-centered innovation as the panacea for all these challenges

To be continued at

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Robert Verganti: User Centered Innovation Is Dead

Found at  User Centered Innovation Is Dead | Futurelab – An international marketing strategy consultancy.

With a cheeky little link to Tom Kelly’s The Art of Innovation, Roberto Verganti (author of Design Driven Innovation) suggests in not so many words that User Centered Innovation, IDEO’s claim to fame, is dead.

While tech experts were busy commenting on the qualities of the iPad, what struck me was the level of excitement that the event created. On Tuesday, the day before the product was unveiled, a Web search for “Apple tablet” produced more than 17 million links! On Wednesday, hordes of people attended the news conference remotely. Everyone was anxiously waiting for Apple’s interpretation of what a tablet is.

To be continued at’s+Blog)

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Check out design thinkers: Tim Leberecht’s The Customer Isn’t A Human Being

roberto verganti
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Found at  tnx Nick Marsh

I just read a remarkable essay by Venkatesh Rao on “marketing, innovation, and the creation of customers.” It nails the complex relationship between the two functions, examining both similarities and polarities.

Rao opens with what is perhaps the most popular aphorism by venerable management philosopher Peter Drucker:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation.”

Building upon this, Rao argues that “Marketing and innovation define each other in yin-yang ways,” and that they have in common “a love/hate relationship with a downstream partner function (production and sales respectively) that deals in scale and repetition. One design, a production run of a thousand. One user-story, a thousand registered users. One advertisement, a thousand sales calls. Even in the age of mass customization, you can always tell the two sides apart. Production and sales are always repeating something. (…) Marketing and innovation, on the other hand, depend on novelty and uniqueness to add value. This is necessary. If innovation and marketing did not create repetition opportunities downstream, you would not have a business. You’d have a one-off project.”

For Rao, the “customer isn’t a human being.” Neither is he always right, as some like to claim. User-centered designers and innovators in particular won’t like to hear this, but Rao is certain: “Repeat after me: A customer is a novel and stable pattern of human behavior.” Rao’s conclusion is convincing: “Customers need to be created (…) Innovation isn’t about creating novel products or services. An innovation is a stimulus that causes a novel and stable pattern of human behavior to emerge.” As an example, he cites Google, which he considers “a stimulus that creates a novel pattern of information-discovery behavior known as ‘Googling’ that is different from what ‘searching’ used to be before Google.”

And further: “This is why marketing and innovation are deeply linked in a yin-yang pattern. They are both exploring the same uncertainties in free human behavior, and seeking ways to stabilize it into predictable patterns. When both look at uncertainties in human behavior, or uncertainties in potential stimuli, you get similarities and harmonies. When they are looking in different directions (typically, marketing looking at the customer, while innovation is looking at the stimulus), you get polarities. This tension is necessary. If ever innovation became truly “’customer-led’ you’ll be in a universe of faster horses. If ever marketing becomes truly ‘product-led,’ you’ll be in a universe of stuff nobody will buy.”

It is the same point Roberto Verganti makes when he rejects the value of market and consumer research and instead touts “design-driven innovation” as a way to “radically innovate the meaning of products.” Verganti claims that for truly breakthrough products and services, one must look beyond customers and users to those he calls “interpreters” – the experts who see and grasp the unique but repeatable “stimuli that cause a novel and stable pattern of human behavior to emerge” (in Rao’s words). Instead of being user-driven and product-centric, both marketing and innovation begin and end with meaning, and they’re both tasked with its production. It is a creative act, an art not a science, and a story not a process.

To be continued at

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John Caddell’s reviews: Roger Martin’s “The Design of Business”

by John Caddell on 13 November, 2009 – 21:06Thje Design-of-Business- Book Cover

The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage,” by Roger Martin. 2009: Harvard Business Press, 190pp.

When did you read it? November 2009.

Subject: Hot on the heels of Tim Brown’s “Change by Design,” Rotman School dean Roger Martin, author of “The Opposable Mind” discusses how design thinking can help businesses balance exploration (the search for new solutions) and exploitation (extracting value from existing solutions) to improve their innovative capability.

Did you like it? How many stars would you give it (1-5)? 4

Summary: Martin describes the process of innovation in three steps, something he calls the “knowledge funnel”: (1) staring into a mystery; (2) coming up with a heuristic, or rule of thumb, that allows you to address the mystery; (3) systematizing your solution – in Martin’s words, turning the heuristic into an algorithm. This process, to Martin, is design thinking.

He spends time discussing the preference business has for reliability (i.e., consistency and repeatability) over validity (meeting a desired objective). Validity is the starting point for innovation – the discovery of something new that helps illuminate a mystery. Since validity is not predictable or repeatable, and tends to rely on qualitative, intuitive assessments (i.e., pattern matching), companies that rely on quantitative measurement struggle with it. It was easiest for me to understand validity, as Martin uses it, as a synonym for “right-brained” or “artistic.” Successful businesses balance the desire for reliability with a relentless search for new validity.

As Martin described this process – taking mysteries, developing heuristics and then refining algorithms from it, it seemed quite simple. Why doesn’t every company do this? But I also thought that there are lots of mysteries that don’t lend themselves to heuristics, and lots of heuristics that can’t turn into algorithms. There are lots of failures on the way to the next great business algorithm. Not only that, there are lots of successful businesses built on heuristics alone [for example, your favorite restaurant, assuming it's not part of a chain]. Martin’s point, which is not stated explicitly, is that you can’t build large businesses without this transition to algorithms. You can’t have McDonald’s without a cooking and serving system. You couldn’t have Wal-mart without its distribution model.

There’s not a discussion of the cost of algorithmized businesses to society. On my last trip to downtown Boston I was hard pressed to find a business that was not part of a national chain; much different from when I Iived there in the 1990’s. But I digress – Martin isn’t writing as a social critic; he’s a business professor.

Favorite quotes:

“Vice President of Marketing” denotes a permanent position with a set of ongoing tasks…. As well suited as that construct is for running known heuristics and algorithms, it is not an effective way to move along the knowledge funnel. That activity is by definition a project; it is a finite effort to move something from mystery to heuristic or from heuristic to algorithm. pp.118-119

Designers produce prototypes for feedback, but managers are accustomed to delivering final products. p.121

Status comes from running large, high-revenue business units whose operations have been reduced to reasonably reliable algorithms that product results on time and on budget. Those are the highest goals, that is, the ones that command the highest compensation. That is why most executives prefer the known to the unknown. p.125

Was it similar to anything you have read before? Of course, there are echoes of “Change by Design” (Brown’s earlier HBR article is referenced). And the idea of “staring into mysteries” reminds me somewhat of “changing the inherent meaning of a product” from Roberto Verganti’s “Design Driven Innovation.” 2009 is definitely the year of design thinking in business!

Martin’s book is less ambitious than Verganti’s, but broader (in a good way) than Brown’s. And his ability to create a powerful, memorable metaphor remains intact (I think I’ll be using “knowledge funnel” and maybe even “validity vs. reliability” in the future).

Will this book end up on your bookshelf or in the library donation pile? The bookshelf.

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