EVALUATING GOOD DESIGN

We also all know iconic designs, such as the Swiss Army Knife, the humble Google home page, or the Disneyland visitor experience. All of these are constant reminders of the way strong design can be at the heart of both disruptive and sustained commercial success in physical, service, and digital settings.

Despite the obvious commercial benefits of designing great products and services, consistently realizing this goal is notoriously hard—and getting harder. Only the very best designs now stand out from the crowd, given the rapid rise in consumer expectations driven by the likes of Amazon; instant access to global information and reviews; and the blurring of lines between hardware, software, and services. Companies need stronger design capabilities than ever before.

So how do companies deliver exceptional designs, launch after launch? What is design worth? To answer these questions, we have conducted what we believe to be (at the time of writing) the most extensive and rigorous research undertaken anywhere to study the design actions that leaders can make to unlock business value. Our intent was to build upon and strengthen, previous studies and indices, such as those from the Design Management Institute.

The four key themes of good design form the basis of the McKinsey Design Index (MDI), which rates companies by how strong they are at design and—for the first time—how that links up with the financial performance of each company. McKinsey's research yielded several striking findings:

A strong correlation between high MDI scores and superior business performance. Top-quartile MDI scorers increased their revenues and total returns to shareholders (TRS) substantially faster than their industry counterparts did over a five-year period—32 percentage points higher revenue growth and 56 percentage points higher TRS growth for the period as a whole.

The results held true in all three of the industries we looked at: medical technology, consumer goods, and retail banking. This suggests that good design matters whether your company focuses on physical goods, digital products, services, or some combination of these.

TRS and revenue differences between the fourth, third, and second quartiles were marginal. In other words, the market disproportionately rewarded companies that truly stood out from the crowd. In short, the potential for design-driven growth is enormous in both product- and service-based sectors. The good news is that there are more opportunities than ever to pursue user-centric, analytically informed design today. Customers can feed opinions back to companies (and to each other) in real time, allowing design to be measured by customers themselves—whether or not companies want to listen.

Lean start-ups have demonstrated how to make better decisions through prototyping and iterative learning. Vast repositories of user data and the advance of artificial intelligence (AI) have created powerful new sources of insights and unlocked the door for new techniques, such as computational design and analytics to value. Fast access to real customers is readily available through multiple channels, notably social media and smart devices. All of these developments should place the user at the heart of business decisions in a way that design leaders have long craved.

What the research demonstrates, however, is that many companies have been slow to catch up. Over 40 percent of the companies surveyed still aren’t talking to their end users during development. Just over 50 percent admitted that they have no objective way to assess or set targets for the output of their design teams. With no clear way to link design to business health, senior leaders are often reluctant to divert scarce resources to design functions. That is problematic because many of the key drivers of the strong and consistent design environment identified in our research call for company-level decisions and investments. While many designers are acutely aware of some or all of the four MDI themes, these typically can’t be tackled by designers alone and often take years of leadership commitment to establish.

Top-quartile companies in design—and leading financial performers—excelled in all four areas. What’s more, leaders appear to have an implicit understanding of the MDI themes. When senior executives were asked to name their organizations’ single greatest design weakness, 98 percent of the responses mapped to the four themes of the MDI.

With thanks to McKinsey & Co.

©2000-2019 ARTSOFAR.COM ALL RIGHTS RESERVED