A company can't survive without well-designed products, and it can't survive without a well-designed business. They are dependent upon one another.
My last column explored the business process lessons that can be learned from early-stage aspects of the design process. The parallels between these interdependent parts of business continue beyond these initial stages though:
Misfires are okay. Mistakes are how you learn and improve. What's unacceptable is letting customers down. A company that goes to market consistently with an unsatisfactory product is one that will not be around long. There are standards set and expectations to be met. Within your business, there are customers, too. Departments rely on one another to reach the common goal of surprising and delighting external customers. Processes put in place will impact internal customers and should involve them in order to be successful.
When OtterBox introduces a new product line, we don't stop innovating. Our Defender Series was the first multi-layer case in the industry. With every new device released, we look for ways to improve and reinvent our Defender Series case. Internal business processes demand the same constant attention. Just because a system isn't broken, doesn't mean it won't be in the near future, especially at high-growth companies.
When creating, evolving, and adapting the structure and systems of your business think about it as though you are piecing together an innovative new product. How must the pieces interact? Is the final product the right one for the current or future marketplace? How can it be better?