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Apple, Google,Yahoo, GE, P&G--design equals innovation.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on November 21, 2005

Michael Bierut of Pentagram fame has cut through the blather to raise a really fascinating—and funny— issue in Corporate America. Everyone loves design but no one wants to call it design. Top CEOs and managers want to call design something else—innovation. Innovation, that they are comfortable with. Design, well, its a little too wild and crazy for them. So they call it innovation.

I’ve been seeing this phenomenon for some time now—ever since design took off as a strategy and way of thinking inside big corporations. The same managers who are perfectly comfortable talking about “vision,” whatever that is, don’t like to talk about “design.” Innovation, however, connotes measurement, control and has a kind of engineering tonality to it. So “innovation” is accepted.

As for me, I think that if managers are uncomfortable with the term design, they should call it a “banana.” Bananas are beautiful, functional, organic, unique, measureable, portable, pleasurable and provide a delightful, emotional experience to consumers. Bananas embody what CEOs and managers are struggling to achieve in using design to create new products and services.

Yes, it took the legendary designer Michael Bierut to make me have this epiphany. Banana. Wow.

Reader Comments

Niti Bhan

November 22, 2005 3:40 AM

With all due respect Bruce, if the word design were to be replaced by "banana" you'd have designers singing, "Tally me banana... " instead of submitting RFP's. :)


November 25, 2005 9:22 PM

I wholeheartedly support your banana notion.

Some dislike "design", others the term "creative" to refer to a designer.

I'd prefer to put an end to the crying and try banana.

But...wait...I think I prefer Apple...


March 30, 2011 2:34 PM

about my sait

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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