Best Quotes From Roger Martin and Tim Brown at Thomson Reuters Talk

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on November 12, 2009

Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, Tim Brown, head of IDEO and Will Setliff, VP, Strategy, Insights & Innovation of Target gathered on Wednesday to talk about Martin’s new book, The Design of Business. There was a great audience of top managers and design educators at Thomson Reuters. I moderated the conversation, kind of.

Here are my favorite quotes. If you were in the audience, post yours.

Roger Martin: “The business world is full of two kinds of people—builders and traders. Over the past 20-30 years, traders have increasingly ruled. They receive the highest compensation. We need to tame the traders.”


Tim Brown: Paraphrase here—“We can use analytics to generate new questions, not just answers. Data visualization is very powerful.”


Me: “I don’t see any intelligent design in the design of design thinking.”

Roger Martin: “27% of all graduate education is in business.”

Will Setliff: paraphrase—“We have to reeducate people out of business schools to work at Target. We have classes and they learn what they don’t in school.”

Roger Martin: “We have to change the way we teach the scientific method. We have to ask, What is the question?”

Someone: “We need a Montessori MBA.”

I started off the discussion by saying that I was on Twitter asking people what I should ask Roger before coming and 3/4 of questions involved what to do to get Design Thinking introduced into their organizations. So I asked Roger why we are still at the stage of just beginning to bring Design into business culture. His answer? The discipline of Management Science, with its focus on reliability, totally dominates business organizations and business education. Analytics and efficiencies leave little room for intuition or the design method.

That was a bummer. But Roger is an optimist and he pointed to Target, P&G, RIM and other companies (also in his book) as examples of change.

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Reader Comments

Steven Dean

November 12, 2009 11:03 AM

Several themes emerged yesterday but I particularly related to how an organization needs to be comfortable being vulnerable and getting things wrong to change (my interpretation).

TB: "How can design thinking affect execution so we don't have lots a failure?"

RM: "In a large organization, go where there's traction and suction in terms of getting this done." WS: "Find the "locus" of innovation practice within the organization."

?: "Get some of what's over there, and bring it over here." How many times have I heard this?

RM: "You can't 'change' culture. You can change formal processes. You can change language. You can introduce empathy. But you can't 'change' culture."

TB: "The black art of design thinking is identifying what is the question. Figuring out the brief is the most interesting part for me."

RM: "The dark side of 'strategic alignment' is often that people think it's the end and so there's no opening for innovation." paraphrase: "A.G. Lafley says, like I say, let's execute along this strategy but know that we'll probably get some of this wrong so be open to changing it."

RM: "Any good design thinker will never think they're done. Never."

RM: "In this current economy the winners will be the re-thinkers not the re-trenchers/"

RM: "Learn to love boundaries."

Richard

November 12, 2009 03:23 PM

Great job yesterday Bruce.

Amongst my favorite quotes were Roger's on the issue of corporate culture (paraphrasing) "Culture is derivative. You can choose to interact differently, you can change process...you cannot directly change culture."

Tim's statement that breakthrough ideas fly against "reliability" centric culture and therefore require new process, new skills, etc. to actually productize the ideas.

All in all, a very inspiring couple of hours. Thanks.

Daniel Christadoss

November 12, 2009 05:07 PM

I agree, most of us as we follow Bruce Nussbaum, Tim Brown and others of the New Design Thinking wave are thinking of what is the best way to introduce Design Thinking into business culture. I see a lot of talk of GE, Target, P&G as examples of change. However almost forgotten is the small or medium sized companies who have not even heard of Six Sigma. These companies are ripe to use Design Thinking as they have not been corrupted by other methodologies. An interesting fact is also that a lot of these companies are not ruled by traditional MBA's. Also a lot of them are practicing Design Thinking but are not calling it so. I have heard aquaintances claiming that they are a one man DFSS skunk works crusaders in their organizations leading by example. My Kudos to Bruce, Tim, Roger, Bruce Mau an others in getting the word out to the world at large and get more converted Design Thinkers to go and implement change in their organizations
When India first introduced business schools the bulk of the entrants were from engineering/technology schools. Was that one of the reasons for the phenominal Indian industrial growth in the recent decades?

Gearheadgal

November 12, 2009 05:28 PM

Was this video of the session streamed or posted? I would have loved to have been there.

The only topic I didn't see in your snippets would have been one I had hoped to hear about how to increase the appetite for failure in a high risk economy. I see some companies dabble in innovation and then not hit a home run out of the gate. People in risk averse enterprises immediately want to run from a smelly turd rather than learn from it. Innovation has the batting average of a great major league baseball player, but most businesses don't find that ratio of hits to at-bats acceptable. One can quickly develop a reputation as an operational failure which trumps any label as a creative thinker in this climate.

J Li

November 12, 2009 10:12 PM

Other quotes:

WS: (paraphrase) We tend to think that learning ends with graduate school. But if that's true, we're screwed. Corporations must pick up the the role of helping us learn after graduate school.

TB: Can the media help us all ask the right questions?

In regard to the issue of learning to do things with design methodology, and then returning to a traditional environment:
"You just can't go back to the way it was before."
"It'll never be the same again."


Steven Dean put up this one, but I think it's important to add the line after it:

RM: "You can't 'change' culture. You can change formal processes. You can change language. You can introduce empathy. But you can't 'change' culture."

RM: Culture will change over time.

Sarji Ramanathan

November 13, 2009 01:35 AM

I am looking for the video too, as I could not make it this week.

Jinal Shah

November 13, 2009 04:50 PM

Bruce, I met you at the panel on Wednesday and asked the question about social media and where it intersects with design thinking.

I've written my impressions about the panel discussion here if you are interested. http://www.contentdecoded.com/?p=203

It was terrific to meet you finally after having read your work for so long on BW.

Jinal

alfredo muccino

November 13, 2009 05:22 PM

First of all, thanks Bruce for participating and moderating a lively discussion on one of my favorite topics.

Here's one of the many interesting tidbits I walked away with....

WE NEED TO QUESTION THE QUESTION.
One of the most interesting topics of the evening was posed by Tim Brown, who suggested that not enough emphasis is placed on the question that initiates the design process. Being a designer, Tim has been trained to start with a “brief” - a document that outlines the objectives, audiences, requirements, etc. Designers are often handed the brief as a way to begin the design exploration. Tim not only suggested that designers should write the brief instead of the client, but should question the intent and need that necessitated the brief to begin with….he referred to it as the need to “question the question”. These comments made me think about the fact that we are in fact trained to strive for the answer…and perhaps generating more questions will lead to more interesting ideas.
If anyone is interested, I wrote more about this on my blog: www.liquidbrandexchange.com

Alfredo Muccino
Chief Creative Officer
www.liquidagency.com

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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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