A good designer can unlock the true potential of your organization and help re-accelerate your business. It has always been a designer’s role to empathize with the customer. To understand their basic needs and traditionally package these needs in an appropriate design, meaning a cosmetic skin to entice the buy, with often little relationship to the broader business supporting the product itself. However, for me, strategic design goes far deeper. It makes considerations that the traditional definition of a designer fails to capture.
While strategic design has manifested more recently, it still struggles to find its way within the average American business. Currently, there is little understanding of how to position the culture of design within an organization. As a result, it is not often integrated at a senior level simply because the true value of design and its transformative capabilities are not widely understood.
Strategic Design is a process of risk mitigation, optimization, and innovation bundled together. In that, it is much closer to business practice than the common aesthetic definition of design. If done well is akin to having answers to the test. Just like in business, it uses data to validate decisions. You gather data until you know precisely where to target, how to target, and when to target. Design, when done well and positioned correctly within a company, can provide a distinct competitive advantage.
My role, as I see it, is organic within an organization. As typically an external partner, it is far easier for me to cross job titles. However, for design to be truly successful, it must be cross-functional. A strategic designer must be in lockstep with the business leadership, manufacturing, procurement, legal team, marketing, finance, and senior management. A strategic designer must be borderless and able to permeate across the org chart, an all-access pass, with the ability to fill the in-between spaces that link the various siloed functions of a business with the intent to enable a seamless distillation of knowledge and capabilities. Within this, a strategic designer must be fluent in all the various languages spoken across an organization and their respective roles. They must understand the vocabulary, interests, fears, capabilities, limitations that vary from job title to job title. A strategic designer’s function must connect company-wide dots and cultivate well-informed decisions that unify the business toward a holistic vision. Ultimately, for strategic design to manifest, it must represent the organization itself and leverage its strengths and acknowledge its weaknesses.
Design can be a powerful tool to unlock a market if that tool is unencumbered and supported from the top down. Therefore, I challenge businesses looking to grow, differentiate, access an audience in a meaningful way to embrace the transformative proposition of design. Strategic designers solve complex problems and, as a result, unlock your organization’s true potential and re-accelerate your business.