Commonly “strategy” is a plan for how to achieve a goal. In the business world it’s a plan to differentiate from competitors. In design thinking a process to provide creative and innovative solutions to wicked problems. In pretotyping it’s an approach to weed out wrong ideas.
The purpose of design strategy, however, is to leverage the client’s business – to create value through implementing viable ideas for new markets, new products and services and for sustainable growth. The aim is not to find the one best solution ever, but to positively change the current status quo.
Design Strategy is a process, which generates a continuous stream of insights. This can cause a moving goal. The core of a good design strategy is a fast interplay between thinking and doing, design and business – and at the end the design of the goal itself. Therefore actively involving all stakeholders in all necessary disciplines of the design process is essential.
Why should a goal be changed?
No amount of resources can make the wrong goal fruitful. The numbers illustrate that most goals fail:
- 90% of all mobile apps don’t make any money
- Four startups out of five lose their money
Or take an example from another industry: 80% of new restaurants close within one year.
Design strategy should X-ray 10 perspectives to raise the chances of success:
- Use effectuation: Start with what you have — knowledge, connections, budget and time. Determine your goals according to the resources you have. Define the loss you can afford for one or many business opportunities, cooperate with parties you can trust.
- Put People first: Unmet customer needs change customer behaviors and attitudes. Find out what the customer’s true needs are. Design is based on solutions, so we need a fundamental understanding of the underlying needs.
- Frame the core problem: If you cannot define the real challenge, you cannot evaluate a strategy nore improve it.
- Make possible solutions tangible: This is the phase of generating, pretotyping (would we use it?) and communicating new solutions to the stakeholders. The intention of pretotyping is to fail early, often, cheap, but always “fail forward”. Each pretotype could be discussed, optimized, accepted or rejected without misunderstanding. It´s a language which everyone understands. More about pretotyping: “Pretotypen Sie es!”, Ralf Allrutz and “Pretotype It”, Alberto Savoia.
- Weave connections: Create connections between products and services. Bridging gabs creates opportunities for new markets and to differentiate from competitors.
- Test the future now: Each pretotype should be tested, co-created and optimized with customers – or you make a trial launch to the market. The intention is to increase chances of success, reduce development costs and save time through the insights you gain.
- Do Pre-production: Construct and fabricate rapid prototypes. It will give you the answer of “can we produce it?” and what the price tag is to produce it.More about pre-production: Wolkenkitchen
- Consider the timeline: Prioritizing the order in which products, services or ecosystem should grow. Or start with the “Minimum Viable Product”.
- Make it real: Integrating user experience design as a fundamental aspect of differentiation in the market. User experience covers all aspects of the user’s perception, emotion and liking that occur before (acquire phase), during (use phase) and after the use (upgrade phase) of a system, product or service. Start with lean user-experience within the use phase.
The processes and methods of strategic design have much in common with design thinking, business model innovation and customer development, user experience design and pretotyping. It´s very difficult to separate the domains clearly, but it is always fun for us to think and talk about it.
The above listed perspectives of design strategy helps us to “think with hands” – to promote discussion and decision making, to save resources and raise the chance to be successful based on an unexpected design strategy.