Rotman on Design. (Get It. Now.)

It has been nearly a decade since Roger Martin, then-dean of The Rotman School of Management (he recently retired from the post), penned a provocative thought:

We are on the cusp of a design revolution in business. Competing is no longer about creating dominance in scale-intensive industries, it’s about producing elegant, refined products and services in imagination-intensive industries. As a result, business people don’t just need to understand designers better–they need to become designers.

He could not have known that his thoughts, embedded in a Rotman Magazine article entitled The Design of Business, would spark the very revolution he wrote of. Media outlets like BusinessWeek, Fast Company, and Time all quickly embraced design and design thinking, and devoted key issues to the topic.

It wasn’t long before Rotman Magazine became the go-to source for leading-edge thinking about design-driven innovation.

And design thinking? While the term is arguably at risk of becoming commoditized and ultimately meaningless, the mindsets and methods — when taught properly and adhered to with real discipline — have had more impact and sticking power than any competing concept I’ve seen and practiced.

That’s why Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine is a must-have for anyone charged with innovation in an organization. (Disclosure: I’m fortunate to be a regular contributor to Rotman Magazine, and two of my articles are included in the book.)

As Roger Martin writes in the Introduction:

Why has design had such resonance with a business audience? I believe it’s because people recognize that everything that surrounds us is subject to innovation — not just physical objects, but political systems, economic policy, the ways in which medical research is conducted, and complete user experience. Organizations can no longer count on quality, performance or price alone to sustain leadership in the global marketplace: design has emerged as a new competitive weapon and a key driver of innovation.

In the end, design is about shaping a particular context for the better, rather than taking it is as it is. Success today arises not from emulating others, but by evolving unique models, products and experiences — in short, creative solutions. That’s an end result we can all get behind, and design has already proven its value in achieving it.

Rotman on Design has three parts:

Part 1: The Foundation — Why Design? Why Now?

Part 2: How Design Fits Into The Modern Organization

Part 3: A Skill Set Emerges

You’ll find contributions from the likes of RISD’s John Maeda , IDEO’s Tim Brown, Jump’s Dev Patniak, Darden’s Jeanne Liedtka, IDEO’s Diego Rodriguez, P&G’s Claudia Kotchka, MicGill’s Henry Mintzberg, Peer Insight’s Tim Ogilvie,  and TED’s Helen Walters, just to name a few.

Amazon has already designated the book as a “Best of 2013 So Far,” and Bruce Nussbaum has it right when he writes, “This is the most extraordinary collection of essays on Design and Design Thinking that I have ever seen. Including contributions by the most insightful leaders in the field, it is a powerfully useful book that everyone in search of more innovation and creativity must have.”

The thinking is profound, the writing sterling. It’s worthy of coffee table status, and comes in a hardcase sleeve. It’s a $35 investment you can’t afford to pass up.