We use the term design strategy to describe the nexus between corporate strategy and design thinking. Corporate strategy is the traditional method that businesses and other similar entities use to identify, plan, and achieve their long term objectives and goals. Design Thinking is a methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems by engaging the end-users.
In business, we need a way to put a strategy into effect, and that requires a methodology, a framework, a roadmap, and a way of thinking. Implementing a design strategy requires a strategic thinking mindset.
People tend to confuse strategic thinking with strategic planning and vice versa. They are different.
Strategic planning involves gathering data and deciding on a path that the business or project will take to achieve its goals. Strategic thinking involves everyone at all levels of the organization/design team consistently finding and contributing to activities that add to the organization’s success.
To think strategically means to see, and understand the bigger picture of where a team or organization needs to go, and then take action. Everyone participates.
Here are a few key questions strategic thinkers ask themselves:
When we think strategically we focus more on problem-solving, develop clearer strategies, promote proactive behavior, and we develop a stronger bond with employees who feel more involved and empowered. Absent of thinking strategically, we become stagnant. We lose focus on organizational outcomes and will not remain competitive. Planning, the lifeblood of positive outcomes, is best facilitated with strategic thinking.
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Designers must develop a tactical thinking approach to work with internal stakeholders. By doing so, the designer gains a better understanding of business objectives, user goals, and is able to translate these needs into meaningful design solutions. Strategic thinking encourages designers to look at the design process as a problem-solving mechanism. Designers must begin by identifying the problem and working with both the client and the team to solve that problem. It is similar to connect the dots approach to implement in the design strategy.
Creating and executing a strategy is both art and science. Much like design, a strategic mindset is practiced and improved upon over time.
Here is a useful framework for implementing strategic thinking in design:
Strategic thinking, even in design, is a process that may seem a bit uncomfortable at first, but with a bit of persistence, it will create a stronger bond between the client and the design team, and show the value of design in an entirely new light.
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Here are some of the benefits a designer gets after implementing a tactical mindset:
Strategic thinking improves with practice. Here are a few tips to stay sharp and polished:
Executing a successful design strategy requires a strategic thinking mindset—a mindset that affords us the ability to focus more on problem-solving, execution, and better alignment with business goals. Connect with prototype design services for more assistance.
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