What is it that separates corporations like McDonald’s from so many others? According to Roger Martin there’s more to it than hard work. Design thinking…a kind of analysis that takes something from mystery to heuristic and then to algorithm…is the real secret. Best of all? You can learn how to do it. But first, a little dictionary work.
A heuristic “represents an incomplete yet distinctly advanced understanding of what was previously a mystery (p. 12, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage).”
An algorithm is an explicit, step-by-step procedure for solving a problem.
Returning to the McDonald’s example, company founders wondered “what and how the mobile, leisured, mass middle class of southern California want to eat (p. 16)?” That was their mystery. The heuristic they developed was “a quick service restaurant with strictly limited menu options (p. 16).” When Ray Kroc came along and bought McDonald’s from the founding brothers, he developed a precise algorithm and the reward was “a massive gain in efficiency.”
Simple way to understand the reality of winning organizations. Start with a mystery (i.e., how to reach this market niche?), begin to develop a heuristic, and then an algorithm. Think you’ve solved the mystery but not hitting it out of the park? Maybe you’ve got the wrong heuristic! Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board and work to solve the mystery.
Looks like a great book. Want to come along? You can order yours right here.