A Conversation About Strategic Design

What it is and how it looks like to practice it in an organization.

A Conversation About Strategic Design

What it is and how it looks like to practice it in an organization.

Hi everyone, Kevin here.

I recently had a great conversation with Daniele Catalanotto  and Géraud de Laval about what is Strategic Design and how it takes form in different organizations.

🎙 See listening options here!

Our guest, Géraud de Laval is a talented product designer who works are Romande Energie and coaches startups as a freelancer.

This conversation is part of a series of Podcasts for Design & Critical Thinking with Daniele (hold in French). Daniele is a Service Designer in Switzerland and is the founder of the Swiss Innovation Academy and the Service Design Magazine.

For those of you who don't speak French –or just don't want to listen to us thinking out loud– here's the summary of this conversation in English. Also, find below a video version, available on YouTube with automatic-translation subtitles.

🌟 Subscribe on YouTube to be notified when new episodes are out!


What is strategic design?

Strategic design is basically the art of zooming out and asking where are we going with this? What the change that we want to create and why does that change matter? At that stage of design, you are not interested in details like “how will this button look like”, but you will ask questions like “where do we want to be as a group in 5 years, and what’s holding us back?”.

But how is that different from “strategy”? It can be different because we might use a prototyping mindset –through the use of scenarios– and start with empathizing with the people we want to serve –through interviews to prepare it for example.

The importance of scenarios

There is not just one way to arrive at a given goal. Designers understand that as they love to prototype different solutions. The same goes when designers do strategic design.

The designer doing strategic design will create multiple scenarios. Each scenario will be quickly tested out in order to evaluate what are the positive forces that push us in that direction and what’s holding us back.

Use interviews to prepare it

As most initiatives performed by designers, strategic design also starts by empathizing with the people we aim to serve. This means that preparatory interviews are key if you were for example to prepare a workshop to prepare the next strategy of a company, department, or group.

Explore and be critical

If you  are interested in the topic of strategic design, we compiled a list of links and resources that might help you explore this topic by yourself and build your own opinion about it.

Strategic design | Wikiwand
Strategic design is the application of future-oriented design principles in order to increase an organization’s innovative and competitive qualities. Its foundations lie in the analysis of external and internal trends and data, which enables design decisions to be made on the basis of facts rather t…
What is strategic design? - Quora
What is strategic design? - Helsinki Design Lab
Helsinki Design Lab helps government see the ‘architecture of problems.’ We assist decision-makers to view challenges from a big-picture perspective, and provide guidance toward more complete solutions that consider all aspects of a problem. Our mission is to advance this way of working. We call it …
What a strategic designer* does
On 17th of February 2014, I wrote the article below reflecting on my initial steps as strategic designer. Today, more than two years later I agree with many of the points I mentioned but also I can…
Sci-Hub | Strategic Design or Design Strategy? Effectively Positioning Designers as Strategists. Design Management Review, 30(1), 38–45 | 10.1111/drev.12160

Kevin Richard

Senior Designer and UX Strategist in the Swiss🇨🇭FinTech industry. ❤️Science, Psychology, Critical Thinking, UX & Design Thinking for innovation.

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