Design Strategy?

When someone says “digital strategy”, or just “strategy,” what comes to mind? You might think of strategic roadmaps, strategic pillars, ROI, KPI’s or a whole range of other deliverables and concepts that create a strategy.

Yet, today many of these tools are based on a foundation that is no longer true. Assuming consumer and business behaviors and activities are not going to change for 12 months is a vision of the past. In reality, the only constant is change and the rate of adoption of new forms of technology and consumer experiences is way in advance of any roadmap that tries to predict the future. So what can you do? This collection of articles looks at ways to become more agile, critiques what have come to be seen as best practices, and tries to help you avoid doing things that are actually destructive to your own success.

The SIMPLE Answer to Digital Strategy
“Most of the challenges you’ll face will be with folks trying to make this bigger (because that’s easier), slower (because that’s easier too) or stalling (because that’s easiest).”
Thought Works

Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.
“The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you’re serious about creating things that matter”
New York Times

Digital Strategy is Dead
“By learning to act and iterate quickly in small ways, companies build their most sustainable competitive advantage: agility.”
Thought Works

IBM is gearing up to become the world’s largest and most sophisticated design company
“Designers bring this intuitive sense for what it [the assignment] means. They understand the power of delivering a great experience and how to treat a user as if they were guests in their own home,” says Gilbert, who’s also the company’s designated chief design evangelist.”
Quartz

Why “Agile” and especially Scrum are terrible
“The worst thing about estimates is that they push a company in the direction of doing work that’s estimable”

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@kaushik5000 or @Buscada on twitter

Visual Thinking

Making a sketch is often the first step towards thinking about a design problem. But I’ve found that oftentimes making that mark feels daunting – it is the first sign of my imagination committing to a solution. A mark feels risky – the idea is now out in the world for more than just me to see.

I often think of sketching an idea as making a visual list. Making lists helps move ideas forward, another kind of decisive first mark. I also think about list-making as a process :

1. Make the list (Thinking out loud, possibly in collaboration)
2. Looking through the list again and re-ordering it. (Fitting it to the needs of the idea)
3. Reviewing your new list (Critique and time for contemplation)
4. Fixing the list and deciding to follow its order (Deciding on a course of action)

With sketching, or visual thinking, these steps happen simultaneously, still holding a lot in common with a simple list.

Here’s an example from one of our recent projects with MIT’s Wolk Gallery for a exhibition promotion piece.

One of several sketches which emerged from this visual thinking process. —  

One of several sketches which emerged from this visual thinking process. —

 

The final design

The final design

Although this process seems based in a visual product, I apply this kind of visual thinking (or visual list-making) many kinds of problems. Because of the quick nature of the process, we’re able to address many questions and answers early on, helping to shape a project’s outcome in the process.

Playing by your own rules

It is hard to win when you are playing by someone else’s rules or, worse still, do not entirely understand the rules. By redefining the “meaning” of your project you become an expert in the rules of the game, and one of the people defining those very rules.

The Meaning to Tasks model uses the idea of a “project meaning”.

It supports a practice for teams and individuals to create fundamentally new meanings for projects, products and services. By working in this way the meaning of everyday projects are changed, and projects created are differentiated from the rest of the market through innovatively integrated strategies, rather than solely through feature-level improvements.