Editor’s Note: Alan Webber, who co-founded Fast Company magazine in 1995, has long recognized the role of design as the great differentiator in business. In his most recent business book, “Rules of Thumb,” Webber shares insights gleaned from his own life and work experiences over the past 30 years and distills them down to 52 rules of thumb. Webber’s rules aren’t the end of the discussion; they are the beginning, with readers invited to add their own rules. Here we reprint Rule #28. Webber’s other 51 rules are just as pertinent and interesting.
Good design is table stakes.
Great design wins.
In the last few years since I left Fast Company and started traveling a lot, I’ve noticed a global leitmotif, as if the same piece of music were being played in different countries all over the world.
In Tokyo at a conference on innovation I sat down with an old friend, a business sociologist and strategist for leading Japanese companies.
“Japan used to be a low-cost exporter of manufactured goods,” I said. “But those days are clearly over. What’s Japan’s new national strategy?”
“We don’t think there’s a problem,” she told me. “Japan intends to compete globally on the quality of our design.”
It made sense to me. Japan has an exquisite sense of style and presentation.