Abstract

It is often argued that design serves as an effective change agent in strategy formation. However, the question of how this actually occurs remains largely unexplored. Through case studies of five design consulting firms in Denmark, this paper examines how design gets involved in the making of strategy. The findings show that there are at least two paths to strategy-level work: First, design works its way to strategizing through repeated client engagement and trust building. That is, design consulting firms work with the same client over a long period of time, they gain trust of their clients, so the complexity and strategic importance of their deliverables gradually increase. Second, design consulting firms use human-centered approach as a means for reviewing the business strategy of their clients. That is, user research brings user needs, problems and opportunities into focus, which, in turn, paves the way for strategy-level discussions and solution seeking. Each path is discussed in terms of issues in design management, including, but not limited to, design activities, competence building in design firms and organizational structures.

Keywords:

strategy; strategic design; design consulting firms; design management

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Jun 25th, 12:00 AM

The View from Within: Design’s Voyage to Get a Seat at the Strategy Table

It is often argued that design serves as an effective change agent in strategy formation. However, the question of how this actually occurs remains largely unexplored. Through case studies of five design consulting firms in Denmark, this paper examines how design gets involved in the making of strategy. The findings show that there are at least two paths to strategy-level work: First, design works its way to strategizing through repeated client engagement and trust building. That is, design consulting firms work with the same client over a long period of time, they gain trust of their clients, so the complexity and strategic importance of their deliverables gradually increase. Second, design consulting firms use human-centered approach as a means for reviewing the business strategy of their clients. That is, user research brings user needs, problems and opportunities into focus, which, in turn, paves the way for strategy-level discussions and solution seeking. Each path is discussed in terms of issues in design management, including, but not limited to, design activities, competence building in design firms and organizational structures.

 

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