Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Happens When Designers are Unleashed

Lee Iacocca dismissed it as the "potato" car, but Americans loved it enough to make the Ford Taurus the second-best-selling car in American history, second only to Henry Ford's immortal Model T. Still, after 21 years, the car has come to the end of its life, and is being discontinued this week. The L.A. Times sees its exit as "a forlorn reminder of things gone wrong with the American auto industry." Why? Because according to a former Ford executive, "the Taurus program was one of the few times Ford has turned its designers loose." The result was a car that saved an entire company and changed the domestic auto industry. It's a timely reminder--for anyone who needs it in the age of Macs, IPods and Aeron chairs--that great design isn't merely about cosmetics and frills, but is instead at the heart of building customer loyalty and excitement. That's why, according to this excellent recent Business Week package, companies are increasingly looking to the top design schools for talent to help them broadly innovate. Naturally, our own Cleveland Institute of Art always manages to come up in those conversations, as I mentioned in July.


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