review

Today is tomorrow

Have you ever been overexcited to read a book that could change your way of thinking? Have ever been disappointed by the same book that promised to teach you something valuable? Luckily that’s not the case here.

Don’t get me wrong you won’t read the book and change in the blink of an eye. But trust me, you will get the first push needed to find your direction in the world of innovation.

Written by the Design Innovation Research group from the University of Sydney, Australia – Karla Straker, Cara Wrigley, and Erez Nusem – Design Innovation and Integration would guide you to the world of change.

The minimalistic design and the great choice of fonts are the perfect visual communication with the reader. The underlined words and side notes written with “marker” font give you the feeling of reading the personal notes of the smartest kid in class. It makes the experience way more personal than reading a regular book that will make you fall asleep on page 10.

Robert Hayes, a business professor from Harvard University wrote:

Fifteen years ago companies competed on prices. Today it’s quality. Tomorrow is designed. (1991)

Reminding us of what is the driving force of business today, the authors have highlighted that the tomorrow Hayes describes is today. The time has come for companies to compete on design.

Hmm… so If tomorrow is today, what is in the day after tomorrow?

Anyways, frame this question as you like, but if you want to break new ground, you need some guidance.

As the title already gave you a hint, the book has two major points: Design Innovation and Design Integration. It aims to provide a holistic understanding of the approaches, practices, and tools needed to integrate them into the organization’s environment.

A broad spectrum of resources has been used to provide the reader with a lot of different points of view (POVs) and theories of the designing processes. Something I admire the authors for is the fact that they don’t just put their POV in your face but taking into consideration the whole history of design. Building upon design, business and management theories and practices the authors have created a design innovation framework that combines all the key components for an organization.

Every single component has been given the attention needed and has its own chapter. If you are totally inexperienced in this field this book will simply explain to you what to do in every component, how to take internal and external POV, and WHY it is important to do so.

If the majority of the design innovation books focus on providing tools, here you will be given the deeper meaning of the process besides the tools. That I believe it’s the most valuable part. If you don’t understand the process and don’t know what you aim for and why is it valuable for you, the whole point will be lost.

If you are familiar with those ways of thinking and working, you might feel like “yeah, yeah we know that already, where is the new stuff?” I’m not gonna lie: that’s how I felt. Even so, it is sometimes good to step back and remind yourself why every step is important and should not be overlooked.

Keep reading. It’s up to you to discover something new and improve yourself.

The second part will teach you who you need to be and what skills are needed to integrate the innovation within the organization. And what support you need, because this integration of innovation is not a one-man show.

By taking into consideration not only the design catalyst’s skills and capabilities needed but also the environment and the resources, the authors show you how to look at the bigger picture. To create order in this chaos, you also need to be familiar with the different types of thinking. The book offers examples of recognizing types of thinking within your organization, to make it easier to assign tasks and roles to the right people in order to enable the innovation transformation.

Communication during such a transformation is a key component to success. People usually don’t understand or underappreciated the value of visual language. But what’s the easiest way to explain a multifaceted, complex problem than using visuals?

Integrating an innovation could be a big change for a company and it’s important to remember that there is no ending point to this journey. What you need to learn as an innovator and as an organization, is the fact that the world never stops spinning. It constantly changes and so do we. You have to learn to adapt.

A good addition to the book would be to remind the reader more often of the fact that design innovation and integration is not a linear process. just following the necessary steps isn’t enough. The most common mistake I have seen is the misinterpretation of visualized design thinking processes as a one-way journey and a clear ending point. IT IS NOT.

Keep in mind this quote from the book: “No model ever would be the complete answer, the designer is as important as the design process. Tools enable skill but you must have these skills first”.

So, let’s create tomorrow, today.

Design Innovation and Integration by Karla Straker, Cara Wrigley, and Erez Nusem is published by BIS Publishers.