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20 July 2009

Why design matters to the operation of a project team

Tom Peters on the importance of design for service providers (like project teams.)

Is design more important for marketing products than services? 
No. Paradoxically, I believe that design is more important for services. Harvard marketing expert Ted Levitt pointed out years ago that if your product is tangible (planes, boats, cars, pen knife), you need to distinguish yourself from the herd by emphasizing intangibles i.e., service. 

If your product is intangible (banking, travel, etc.), distinguish yourself from the masses by emphasizing the tangible to wit, design. FedEx, for example, stands out on the tangibles strong branding, clean trucks, easy-to-use forms. 

To me a business system, like FedEx's, that works transparently on the surface and offers brilliant simplicity is as much about design as an iMac or a Beetle. If you're a service business, it's important to specifically work on the tangibles.

Why is this relevant to us?  Project teams are professional service firms.  We're temporary, but that's what we are regardless of the nature of the product we are creating.

And for us success is measured a measure of perception over expectation.

You can read more on the topic of how tangibles make our clients happy under the RATER tag.