London Design Festival


Fashion Week isn’t the only creative celebration in London as the “London Design Festival” also kicks off today.

A Seth-urday regular Seth Godin offers some sage insights into design. While Seth is billed as a “marketing” maven, he appreciates that the very best marketing, is a “remark able” product. When it comes to matters of Leadership and Management, I think he does tend to over-emphasize Leadership to the neglect of Management. But a post of his on design belied his appreciation of the need for balance between these two. Exploring the concept of ‘Quality’ in his post ‘Defining Quality’ he noted…

  • “What’s a higher quality car: a one-year old Honda Civic or a brand new top of the line Bentley?  It turns out that there are at least two useful ways to describe quality, and the conflict between them leads to the confusion…
    • Quality of design: Thoughtfulness and processes that lead to user delight, that make it likely that someone will seek out a product, pay extra for it or tell a friend.
    • Quality of manufacture: Removing any variation in tolerances that a user will notice or care about.”

Godin does go on to assert that the latter will be “diminishing in importance as a competitive tool.” And I continue to disagree with him there. The concept of producing a product or service and getting it into the customer’s hands is only getting more complex. Just-in-time techniques, global supply chains, market-segment-of-1 mass customisation all make this delivery ability more difficult and an opportunity for competitive edge. The notion that manufacturing is just punching something out of an assembly line is dated and narrow.

Godin actually acknowledges this balance in his post “The Lab or The Factory” (which also highlights another side of this blog, failure)…

  • “At the lab, the pressure is to keep searching for a breakthrough, a new way to do things. And it’s accepted that the cost of this insight is failure, finding out what doesn’t work on your way to figuring out what does. The lab doesn’t worry so much about exploiting all the value of what it produces–they’re too busy working on the next thing. To work in the lab is to embrace the idea that what you’re working on might not work. Not to merely tolerate this feeling, but to seek it out. The factory, on the other hand, prizes reliability and productivity. The factory wants no surprises, it wants what it did yesterday, but faster and cheaper.”

Leaders envision user delight, Manager remove user cares. Both together are needed to produce the highest quality.