If you could recommend only one book (on graphic design)
Moving to higher ground: Lessons from the art of jazz (part I)

2009: The year of "the designful company"

Book_cover As long as we're talking about design, let me suggest another book. One of the books for 2009 (yes, already) that I highly recommend is called The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation by designer and branding guru Marty Neumeier. Marty understands that we're all very busy, so he designs his books to make a big impact in less than 200 pages. His previous best-sellers — Brand Gap and Zag — are provocative, informative, and inspirational books that I use every semester in my Marketing classes, etc. Like his previous books, The Designful Company is a lesson in simple, clear, and beautiful presentation that complements the content. This is not a graphic design book, but rather a why and how design matters book for leaders and future leaders (including educators, managers, etc.).

Pz_slide Innovation and design are key in the transformation of any organization, of course, but everyone says "innovation" matters. The term has become a mere platitude, a sort of tag-line for many organizations. But in part three of the book Marty explains how to actually build a culture of change that embraces design by focusing on 16 key levers such as weaving a story, bringing design management inside the organization, introducing parallel thinking, recognizing talent and creativity, and many others. One of the levers of change that I found particularly interesting (obviously, given what I do for a living) was the lever #8: "Ban PowerPoint." That is, ban the awful, death-by-PowerPoint approach in favor of a presentation method which is more engaging and powerful. If you have an innovative company that truly understands design and creative collaboration, then you have to abandon the dull, lifeless, and typical PowerPoint experience for compelling stories and conversations that are visual, simple (without being overly simplistic), and memorable.

Marty Neumeier on presentations today

"PowerPoint has become a full-blown epidemic.
Tragically, the victims are company values such
as collaboration, innovation, passion, vision,
and clarity."

"If you want buy-in, give PowerPoint a rest.
Substitute more engaging techniques such as
stories, demonstrations, drawings, prototypes,
and brainstorming exercises."

"If a business is a decision factory, then the
presentations that inform those decisions
determine their quality: garbage in, garbage out."

Below: A couple of sample slides from The Designful Company that illustrate Marty's idea.

Before   After

Three tips for better presentations from Marty Neumeier

Here are three design rules that Marty says they use at Neutron "to turn slide shows
into beacons of clarity."

1. EDIT TO THE BONE. "Most slide presentations collapse under the weight of words." Use as few words as possible on a slide (and make them big), this insures that the ones you use will be read and understood says Marty.

2. USE PICTURES. Use visuals were words on a slide just can't cut it. "...whenever you feel the text in your presentation can’t fully support your key points, insert a picture."

3. KEEP IT MOVING. "It’s better to break slides into bite-sized ideas—usually one idea per slide — than to squeeze everything on one slide. Slides are free, so use them freely. It’s preferable to see a hundred slides that move at a fast clip than be forced to stare a single slide for more than a minute."

• Checkout Marty's firm Neutron located in San Francisco.

Note: The archive of the Safari webcast is now available (they ask for a name and email only to watch it). I put the slides up on Slideshare too. I mentioned Marty's book in the presentation but Webex had problems showing all the slides in sync (and some were skipped), but the archive will still be useful for some of you (I hope a download option will be coming from Safari too).

Note 2: Marty and I have the same publisher and I received the reviewers copy early on, but that's not why I recommend this book. I only recommend books I believe in, period (regardless of the publisher).

Note 3: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! I'm getting on a plane in a few hours bound for San Francisco from Kansai, hoping to change at SFO and get to Portland by Tuesday night. Portland is in the middle of a long snow storm and freeze; hope I make it to Portland. I'll be staying downtown for a few days until it warms enough to make it to the coast it looks like. I think this is going to turn into my favorite Steve Martin Movie. Update: Made it to Portland. Made it to the beach.



Design is powerful tool to change.
Garr, do you have any prediction about 2009 powerpoint design revolution?


I am in Salem and grew up in Bandon. Let me tell you...it is crazy. My husband and I went to Seaside last week. Lots of snow there. Really. Almost 6 inches or so only to come home on Saturday to come home to an ice storm and nearly a foot of snow today. That's here in Salem! It's supposed to be worse in Portland. Be prepared! And, have a wonderful trip.

Phil Weber

Garr: I live in the Pearl District, just North of downtown Portland. Let me know if you'd like to meet while you're in town. Have a safe trip!


I just noticed Nancy Duarte had written about Marty's book to today over at slideology. We must be on the same wave length :-)

And yes, if I make it to Portland, I may be up for meting at a local pub downtown if anything is open Dec 24th. Love to see anyone who could make it. -g

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