Design leaders produce 2X revenue compared to the rest (McKinsey Design Index).
It is no wonder the most profitable brands in the world are not only design-driven, but also design pioneers. Apple being at the top of the list, it has always spent a large portion of its investment on R&D, so has Amazon. One could argue that they have enough money to spend and are least bothered about resources, as the funds are pouring in. That is still true, however, it was only due to consistent devotion to user-centricity that the brands have achieved this position. Design helps in increasing adoption, retention, engagement and process efficiency, which are the key drivers of profitability.
Design is analytical
Good design has a premium to it, design is the premium. In general, Industrial design is thought to be the beautification of things. This was never the case, but came to be due to the creative aspect of design. Design is the conscious thought and analysis of the intent and the plan to execute it. It involves a great deal of research, problem-solving, human understanding and market know-how. The design is a top management issue that is to be driven analytically and is to be measured just like other business matrics.
Creativity in design
Most designers are artists, with a creative flair. What's the role of creativity in design? Creativity is an asymmetry in thought pattern. Most of the time we are on autopilot, the actions we take are without much consideration. Even when we think logically i.e evaluating cost and benefits, we follow a set path. As explained in Edward De Bono’s books, Think, our brain functions like river and water, the mind is the river and thought the water. Water always takes the path of least resistance. The more we use a certain memory, the better the access to it, thus our thoughts are channelled through them. A decision-maker can challenge this by wearing the green hat of creativity.
The above principles of human behaviour are used in the design process. Not just to generate alternative ideas but also in the design itself. For example, when on autopilot, our mind finds easy problems to solve, just like judging a book by its cover. Most of the time we prefer things that are beautiful, familiar and rewarding. Yes, beauty does matter. Apple products are beautiful so people buy them, it then provides a good experience to the user, so the customer stay loyal to the brand, even becomes evangelists.
Design with the user
Design-driven businesses closely monitor how their customers use the product, measure pain points and discover possibilities to provide value. Staying close to the user enables co-creation. Good design is not just to design for the user, but to design with them. This leaves no stones unturned. No assumptions in the final design.
Design is about efficiency
Design methods and tools are used not just at the customer end. C-suite, internal departments, employees and infrastructure are areas where design produces a significant effect. The multidisciplinary aspects of design are proven to reduce differences in teams and increase efficiency within the business process.
What is a product in 2020? Isn’t everything a service? What differentiates a product and a service? The barriers between products and services are fading. This means there is no single touchpoint for the customer, rather a series of experience that provides value to the user. This is off-topic. Let me summaries by mentioning that good design has proven to be better and that there are alternatives to every action.