August 24

What you could learn from ‘Change by Design’ by Tim Brown (2009, 242 pages)

Customers are changing.  Brands and companies have repeatedly experienced shifts from consumption to participation.   Many products are now co-created with customers, be it choosing the fabric and colours on your next pair of trainers, or curating and sharing playlists on Spotify.

Tim Brown in his book ‘Change by Design’ suggest that companies need to adapt by focusing more on understanding customers and designing better solutions and products.  Interestingly, Tim argues that this is more than data ‘an over-reliance on the factual and analytical can be just as dangerous’.

Tim breaks innovation down into three stages (by accepts that the process is iterative):

  • Inspiration
  • Ideation
  • Implementation


The book also suggests a small list of rules for intelligent design:

  1. The best ideas emerge when the whole organisation ecosystem has room to experiment
  2. Those most exposed to challenging externalities (new technology, changes in customers, competitors changing) are best placed to respond
  3. Ideas should not be favoured based on who creates them
  4. Ideas that get people excited should be preferred
  5. Senior leadership needs to do the ‘gardening’ – prune and harvest the best ideas
  6. Clear vision and purpose so that there is a clear sense of direction, so ideas need little supervision


Use prototypes to drive the idea forward, not to create a final solution.  Prototypes are used differently in each of the three stages:

  • Inspiration – a lot of low fidelity prototypes
  • Ideation – fewer higher quality prototypes
  • Implementation – high quality to communicate


What will I do differently after reading this book?

This is a great book, which has taught me a few great things:

  • Uses prototypes more effectively by using them to drive ideas forward and not as a final solution
  • Work harder to create a more creative environment


You can buy ‘Change by design’ here on Amazon UK.

All money goes to buying books and site upkeep.  Any extra is donated to veteran charities.

Rules for brainstorming:

  • Build on the ideas of others (most important)
  • defer judgement
  • encourage wild ideas
  • stay focused on the topic