Monday, May 12, 2008
A new breed of consultant is using the tools of design to solve business problems creatively.
Surgeon Daniel Palestrant was laid up for several months with a back injury when he realized that it often took years before new techniques developed by pioneering doctors filtered out to the rest of the medical world. Why not bring physicians together online and, even better, charge businesses for access to content from their conversations? But the idea alone wasn't enough to get his social network off the ground. He needed to package that idea in such a way that investors would buy it.
Instead of bringing in a conventional consultant to help him, Palestrant visited a loft in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. In a series of meetings there, Palestrant rattled off his ideas--an outpouring he likened to "intellectual bulimia"--while Elizabeth Pastor and Garry VanPatter, the team behind the firm Humantific, furiously drew and took notes. "He was really deep in the trees," Pastor says. The pair made sense of Palestrant's fuzzy ideas and turned them into huge, glossy posters with icons representing how the parts of his business fit together. Diagrams in hand, Palestrant went to venture-capital funds and returned with $40 million in start-up money.
That kind of response is generating more and more heat in the emerging field of transformation design--a hybrid of business consulting and industrial design. Firms like Humantific, whose founders are designers, apply the same process used in designing sleek MP3 players and ergonomic teakettles to unwieldy intangibles like cell-phone promotions and hospital organization, transforming their effectiveness. Along the way, the field is creating some unusual teamwork between designers and business people.
Continue reading Chad Robert Springer's piece fore Time: Different By Design.
In short, the smart folks at Humantific are using design problem solving techniques to make complicated business ideas understandable to everyone.
The sooner the business community recognize and embrace the fact that impassioned, educated and professional communication designers are capable of bringing a lot more to the table (and the bottomline!) than just fluff, wrapping paper or "making it look cool", the better off we'll all be.
Right On Humantific!