Is Will Should
What you get when you overlap Drucker and Design Thinking.
The nuts and bolts: Peter Drucker writes in The Essential Drucker about asking what your business is, will be, and should be in order to avoid wasting your time defending yesterday.
Ever hear of Peter Drucker? You haven’t. Well, shame on you. He’s only the awesomest dude when it comes to business thinking. His Paradigm of Change Model rocked our world and our approach to design.
Drucker broke down the constant fluctuations a business faces. His concept is composed of IS, WILL, and SHOULD. Think of it as operations, tactics, and strategy. Enough talk, let’s go to the Venn diagram:
That sweet little diagram has been tweaked so it’s more like the “circle of life” when it comes to interaction design. Let’s break it down:
IS: To quote Admiral Akbar , “It’s a trap!” Businesses can get trapped in this circle driven by a strong desire to keep the lights on. Who can blame them for wanting a solid business plan to pay the bills? Yet it’s hard to be innovative when you’re stuck in this circle.
WILL: This one’s a tricky bugger. Some businesses do not use tactics (what this circle is all about) to test strategy (SHOULD). Instead, they tend to leap between IS and SHOULD. By doing so, they miss an opportunity to innovate through tactics. A good tactical plan can bring about innovation much faster. It’s also easy to get lost in this circle because it requires a lot of detailed iteration and thinking.
SHOULD: This one’s a snap for many entrepreneurs who have great vision and understand strategy.
“An essential step in deciding what our business is, what it will be, and what it should be is, therefore, systematic analysis of all existing products, services, processes, markets, end users, and distribution channels. Are they still viable? And are they likely to remain viable? Do they still give value to the customer? And they are likely to do so tomorrow? Do they still fit the realities of population and markets, of technology and economy? And if not, how can we best abandon them – or at least stop pouring in further resources and efforts?
Unless these questions are being asked seriously and systematically, and unless managements are willing to act on the answers to them, the best definition of “what our business is, will be, and should be,” will remain a pious platitude.
Energy will be used up in defending yesterday. No one will have the time, resources or will to work on exploiting today, let alone to work on making tomorrow.” -Peter Drucker
The Intersection of Circles
The intersection of IS/WILL is the sweet spot for interaction design. Yet, this is the place that many business struggle to understand and get done.
If the intersection of IS/WILL is the sweet spot for interaction design, then the WILL/SHOULD is nirvana for design strategy. We’ve found that if a business struggles in the intersection of IS/WILL then it almost always has trouble understanding the value of design strategy.
We know. We know. It’s another Venn diagram. Well, it’s the same diagram only now it’s better than ever before. That’s cause it’s split into two haves with the words critical thinking and design thinking at the top. The majority of the IS falls under critical thinking — that’s used to solve many business problems. Operations need standardization to run smoothly. You can’t keep changing constants like accounting and payments — that would be a freakin’ nightmare.
Having been around the block, we’ve also seen businesses get stuck on one type of thinking — usually critical thinking — validating their strategy through the intersection of IS and SHOULD instead of tactics (WILL) to drive innovation. By doing this, it’s hard to infuse strategy with innovative thinking.
That’s why design thinking is the perfect yin to critical thinking’s yang. Design thinking allows a business to inject new ideas without being hogtied by IS.
And, man, do we love design thinking. Our roots are deeply planted in design thinking principles. After all, our sweet spot of interaction design and design strategy fits neatly in the right side of the Venn diagram. On the other side of the coin, we’re also focused on some critical thinking tasks that overlap with the current operations in a business as interaction designer.
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