Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Simplicity & design: food for thought

Holidays_martinique_2004_00032Nature is a good inspiration for simplicity, functionality and good design. Flowers are one manifestation of good natural design, at the same time beautiful and functional (flowers are in fact the reproductive organs of a plant, so they do have a very vital function).

Now, I personally consider design to be a wide or transversal discipline that is not solely confined to the way physical items look. Design is also how a service is being performed and there is a particular area that I like to call business design, which involves deliberate thought about the identity, the values, the capabilities and the operating mode of a business in an endeavour to make the whole harmonious.

There is a very interesting article in the November issue of the Harvard Business Review, which deals with business design and complexity; the title of the article is "Innovation versus Complexity: What is Too Much of a Good Thing". The article makes a good job in showing how business end up stacking new components, services, options, products, alliances... in a more or less random way. A bit like Lego parts assembled together in a totally haphazard manner or at least in a way that reflect the history of the organization but not necessarily the necessities of the present situation. Taking that point into account, it is interesting to combine it with lines of thought of innovation theory that claim the imperative to combine creation and destruction or even suggest to tear down a part of something in order to create a new form better suited to current realities.

Extremely interesting, because then what immediately follows from this is the question of HOW an organization can actually perform that and change, which brings us to the post of a couple of weeks ago on change management. And in an essentially chaotic world, in which organization is often an emergent phenomenon, the tools need to be chosen carefully and applied skillfully  to include all aspects of business starting with the human factor.


  1. i would then just point out that nature has not invented the wheel.
    we should seriously consider why such a great source of inspiration never has pushed us in that direction.

  2. Hello,
    A small comment to Roberto...
    Well, yes, as far as I remember, the Human Being invented the wheel...but...wait a minute...Is the Human Being not a part of Nature ???

  3. i was using alex's same acception of nature: nature creation as opposed to human creation.
    i simply won't enter here into a sophist disgression on what 'natural' and 'artificial' are :)