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A Fine Line: How Design Strategies Are Shaping the Future of Business [Hardcover]

Hartmut Esslinger
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 29 2009

praise for a fine line

"A breath of turbo-charged fresh air that doesn't regurgitate the ego-maniac CEO's selective memory or an outside expert's misinterpretations. Hartmut explains innovation through the lens of design, and it's about time we gained his valuable perspective." —Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist, Apple and co-founder of Alltop.com

"At Flextronics, we fell in love with Hartmut and frog, and their passion for bringing crazy great designs and design processes into the forefront of great product companies. We used their expertise to help our customers, many of the greatest product companies in the world, including Apple, HP, Cisco, Microsoft and others. It is a credit to Hartmut that in the midst of a shocking global recession, frog still sets quarterly revenue records. Theirs is a unique and fascinating story." —Michael Marks, partner, Riverwood Capital LLC and former CEO, Flextronics

"Hartmut's new approach to design is felt in every room in every house in every country and in every business around the world. He proved that thoughtful design is not only good for people but is good for business—and that both are interlinked. I have been fortunate to have observed first hand his impact at Sony, Apple, and HP?and have learned so much from him. He is an unsung hero of our times! A Fine Line is a must-read for designers and business people alike." —Satjiv Chahil, senior vice president, Hewlett-Packard

"A fascinating, breathtaking, and exemplary insight into a success story that never had so much topicality, and so much informative potential as just now. Esslinger offers an honest and encouraging portrait of the incredible power of the business and design alliance. A Fine Line is a handbook of design expertise and the art of business at its best, showing a variety of radical solutions and fresh new ideas." —Professor Dr Peter Zec, president, ICSID and founder, red dot awards

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From the Inside Flap

"Esslinger's work shows that taste can triumph, design and production can be soul mates, and the eye of an individual can shape a product and a company." —From the Foreword by Michael Moritz, partner, Sequoia Capital

For the first time, Hartmut Esslinger, internationally acclaimed designer and founder of frog design, inc., reveals the secrets to better business through better design. Having spent forty years helping build the world's most recognizable brands, Esslinger shows how business leaders and designers can join forces to build creative strategies that will ensure a more profitable and sustainable future.

A Fine Line shares the amazing story of Esslinger's transformation from industrial design wunderkind to a global innovation powerhouse, while detailing the very real challenges facing businesses in the new global economy. Offering companies far more than a temporary innovation booster, Esslinger shows how he and frog build creative design into the framework of an organization's competitive strategy, the same approach that has worked so well for leading edge companies such as Sony, Louis Vuitton, Lufthansa, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, SAP, Microsoft, and Apple.

Offering a step-by-step overview of the innovation process—from targeting goals to shepherding new products and services to the marketplace—Esslinger reveals how to arrive at a design that reflects an intensely human experience and will connect strongly with consumers. With Esslinger's unique perspective, rich stories, and global mindset, A Fine Line explores business solutions that are environmentally sustainable and contribute to the future of a thriving and lasting global economy.

The blending of design and business intelligence holds the key for shaping a sustainable competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving creative economy. A Fine Line equips business leaders with the necessary tools to thrive in tomorrow's world.

About the Author

Hartmut Esslinger is the founder of frog design, inc., a leading global innovation firm, and one of the most respected designers and business consultants in the world. Esslinger founded frog design in his native Germany and sparked a design revolution. His work has defined the modern consumer aesthetic with such revolutionary products as the Apple Macintosh computer, Sony's Trinitron television, Lufthansa's brand and fleet image, Disney's Cruise Lines and Consumer Electronics, and Louis Vuitton's brand aesthetic. His designs are in the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York. He is also Founding Professor of the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany and Professor for Convergent Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria.

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Most helpful customer reviews
Throughout the years since 1969 when Hartmut Esslinger founded frog design (one of the world's leading strategic design firms), having learned firsthand how truly great business leaders partner with designers, he has developed "a step-by-step innovation process that leverages the power of that partnership. That process is at the heart of the collaborative model of innovation-driven business design that [he's] outlined in this book."

First, Esslinger examines "the role of design in the rapidly developing creative economy and how savvy business leaders cultivate a culture of innovation within their organizations." Next, Esslinger "walks" his reader through a step-by-step view of the innovation process, "from targeting goals to successfully shepherding innovations to market," and then takes an "in-depth look at the tools of innovation and the sometimes counterintuitive process of following a highly technical path to arrive at an intensely human experience." Then in the book's final chapters, Esslinger takes "a long look" at the future of manufacturing and how business can transform the "cheap, cheaper, toxic" model of production outsourcing "into one of mutually beneficial and economic collaboration."

I wholly agree with Esslinger that creativity is the new major driver and a multi-million dollar segment of the new economic order. Also, that "design is the means by which companies can apply creativity strategically to their business purpose." I also agree that only business strategies based on creativity, insight, and cultural awareness can produce benefits that result in "human- adaptive solutions and not in commodity like products for which nobody is willing to pay full price - especially when the offerings outnumber the buyer...
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars MORE BUSINESS THAN DESIGN Aug. 17 2010
By Eduardo Riggen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is more focused on why Frog is so great and how they managed to get some of their accounts. I thought I could get a glimpse of where they got their inspiration and how they turned it into products that sell, but there was none of that. I admire the author's success, and even though he tries to open up and show you how he did it, the book is more about business than design.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Behind the Innovation Curtain July 8 2009
By Daniel T. Edmundson - Published on Amazon.com
In A Fine Line Hartmut Esslinger gives forward-thinking insight into building a company's creative culture. The book allows you to crawl inside the mind of frog design's founder who held the fate of major brands like Disney and Sony in his hands. It effectively reveals Hartmut's approach to unique business solutions and the influence of design on corporate strategy. What I enjoyed most about the book's revelations, aside from providing key design and innovation wisdom, are the honest and humanistic anecdotes that Hartmut offers about his experiences working with Apple, cultivating a growing design firm, and pushing brands to take risks and move beyond the "norm."

Inspiring to say the least.
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected..... July 27 2009
By Consumer Product Engineer - Published on Amazon.com
This is not the book I expected from a world class design company. I was looking for detail on their process of innovation and what I found was a soapbox presentation on "Green" design. This was intertwined with hints about companies that didn't use frog's recommendations to their demise. Much of it was a pitch about why you should use frog design and what might happen if you don't.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Blast starts in the middle - I want more March 2 2010
By Umyot Boonmarlart - Published on Amazon.com
The first couple of chapters are pretty dry and more about his company history, but after that is full of inspiring thoughts and ideas. You will see the world differently after finish the book. One thing though. Essinger is such a great visionary. There are so many thoughts in this book that scream for more explicit detail discussion.

I hope he has the second book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful April 26 2011
By JF Marti - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really liked "A fine line". Harmut Esslinger shares his experience and insights gathered during all his carreer. His wisdom about "selectivity" explained as a key carreer success is one the most useful advice I found in the book. He is very convincing in his field, the industrial design, a bit less when it comes to digital design. But still A Fine Line is worth reading, as it is rare to access so directly to the thinking of great "design achievers" such as Harmut Esslinger.
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