Design and strategy are but two hemispheres of one mind, and when used together the probabilities of true innovation become present.
Design for some, is a highly intuitive process. Using design thinking, we are able to develop products, structures and systems through the eyes of the end-user. How the user interacts with the product or system is the experience that is inevitably created by the designer. In other words, in the case of creating a useful and/or viable product or system, the designer has to prepare the stage for the product or system to be engaged by the end-user. Think about the simplicity of a wooden pencil. How the user engages the pencil tells us a great deal about how well it is designed. Who the user is and the end goal for using the product gives us a better understanding of what and how it should be designed. Without knowing enough about the end-user, arriving at an effective solution could be further than what’s actually realized. Imagine entering the market for preschoolers who are learning to write and designing a pencil with the finest lead on the planet, with the best wood carved by the most precise tools in the world but is useless to the targeted mark; you’d either have to switch markets or scrap the design and start over, both of which can be costly. In essence, design has depth and one should conclude that it encompasses more than just aesthetic appeal.
“How the user interacts with the product or system is the experience that is inevitably created by the designer.”
Strategy involves planning and connecting the dots. Through the lens of a strategist we are able to find pathways and opportunities for innovation. When used effectively, strategy can provide the needed space for creativity to thrive, thus enabling design to fully express, eventually leading to innovation. Strategy provides direction, milestones, and goals within given parameters. It allows one to enter design with clear understanding of what is best to create. This is immensely valuable to the innovator. Strategy also exposes opportunities. Using the same case of the pencils for preschoolers, a perfect design can be created but without the proper plan of getting the product into the hands of the intended user, clean design just isn’t enough on its own.
What we get when merging design and strategy is a potent recipe for innovation. In fact, the fruit of combining the intuition of design and direction of strategy carry the very seeds of innovation.