Last week I visited the Rotman School of Management in Toronto – to date still one of the few business schools that takes a creative approach to executive education and which has created the discipline of Business Design. Roger Martin famously coined the phrase that Business Leaders should not merely think like designers but actually become designers.

In our work we often see the value of using a business designers toolkit – beyond the creative methods of design thinking that have become better known through the work of IDEO and others. Because for Design to fully realise it’s business impact it needs to become the core driver of future business strategy. A creative mindset helps to liberate us from trying to re-engineer, optimise, tweak and fiddle with our business’s growth levers to start from a designers favourite place: a clean slate.

By asking ourselves: “If we could start this business again from scratch what would it look like” we are able to discover the real drivers of future business value creation. As the recent Design Management Insitute (DMI) Design Value Index shows, design-centric companies outperform their peers over time. Please see details here.


With the power having shifted firmly into the hands of the consumer, business leaders need to embrace a creative mindset that allows them to build meaningful connections with key audiences. I know we cringe when Apple gets mentioned as a commercially successful creative company, but I could not help sharing this video that shows an internal presentation by Steve Jobs on the launch of it’s “Think Different” campaign. The rest of his leadership team reacts slightly subdued, but his enthusiasm seems authentic enough to win them over eventually.