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Do You Matter? April 19, 2010

Posted by James in Uncategorized.
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The author of ‘Do You Matter?’ believes that solid project management is no longer a competitive advantage. It is merely the buy-in to play the real game of design. You want to be a design oriented firm because they get to charge a premium on the experience. To become a design oriented firm, the entire organization needs to believe in design, starting from the top. Motorola is an example of a firm that had a hit product (RAZR) but was unable to keep innovating design because it simply lacked the culture and infrastructure.

The critical question to ask yourself is ‘Do You Matter?’ Apple, Harley Davidson, Nike, Coke, and Vicks Vaporub. These are products that people will cry out about if they disappear. Cheers, Panasonic, and Polaroid? Not so much.

I liked the author’s point that what a customer says and how they act are often different. Data from focus groups is often useless and will lead to a mediocre product that tries to satisfy everyone. However, observing a customer in the wild in their day-to-day lives is precious and can lead to a serious breakthrough in design. The inspiration for the W hotels came from a man who listed every complaint he had about his experience with hotels and decided to solve in opening his own brand.

Home Depot is an example of a company that had an amazing customer experience with the experts able to give personal knowledge of hardware and supplies on the spot. However, due to a CEO that was driven by Excel charts, the experts were cut and suddenly the customer experience was lost. The years following showed a steady decrease in stock value and even Warren Buffet sold all of his shares.

I agree with the author on his main point that companies that cannot put the customer experience at the forefront will be unable to charge a premium. I also found it enlightening to think about how design must be built into the company. Any sign of not caring about the customer experience will eventually funnel down into the final product and customer service. However, I disagree with the idea that all firms must be like design oriented. For example, Wal-Mart is tremendously more successful than the design-oriented Target. For the most part, the author’s arguments are well researched and backed by examples that nearly everyone is familiar with.

The value of this book comes from stressing the importance of design in a corporate environment that may have forgotten about the customer experience in a sea of excel sheets. It shows the clear long-term benefits of being able to remember the customer with winners such as Apple and Nike, and the losers such as Polaroid and Home Depot. The type of person who should read this is someone who often gets caught up in logistics and needs a reminder that any amnesia to the customer experience in the

Compared to other books on design and corporate success, I would say this is solid, but not terribly groundbreaking. It’s been said before that the customer experience is what is sold, not the actual product. Pointing out that a company like Apple or Nike is successful because of design has become cliché. I feel that if you have already read a book about design, ‘Do You Matter?’ will not add a significant amount of knowledge. If you have never thought about design before, then this book is a good start.



1. Jon Pittman - April 22, 2010

Your assertion that Walmart is not a design-oriented company might not be correct. It is certainly true when we think of design as beautiful form or compelling customer experience. If we think of design more as systems or integrative thinking, Walmart might well qualify. They have built an extremely consistent and interdependent business system the relentlessly drives their business model.

Helene Cahen - April 24, 2010

To build on John’s comments, I think that this book focus is on customers who are mostly viewed as the end-users in the examples of the book. Others like Beckman and Barry (Innovation as a Learning Process, California Management Review, Vol 50, 1 p.30) explain that “the definition of customers and users may be quite broad”. If you start thinking about users,being all those that may be affected by the changes (not only end users) than you can see how design play a key part in the Walmart strategy, particularly as it relates to their relationship with their suppliers and all the elements of logistics. For me the narrow definition of customers make this book less powerful.

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