5 tips to integrate strategic design thinking in your company culture

8 minutes to read • Last updated 2 October 2020 • Published 25 November 2019 • Digital strategy

Speak to an expert






      Free analysis → Design • Marketing • SEO • Optimisation

      Test your website now:


      Have you noticed any problems?

      Step 1 of 2


      Get your website performance report

      Step 2 of 2

      Complete your details, and we'll send you an analysis of your website






      When it comes to design, if you were asked to describe your company’s decision making processes, how likely would you be to use the word strategic? 

      Because if design isn’t a process that lies at the heart of everything you do – and perhaps mostly importantly isn’t tied in to your company’s strategy – then you might well be missing a trick. 

      What is strategic design thinking?

      How would you go about defining strategic design thinking? 

      Management consultants Stratego consider design thinking to be “going beyond the limits of the logic of “product” to evolve and become the logic of user experience.”

      design strategy book

      Free book: Design strategy for business leaders

      An executive guide to commercially successful design

      Get it now →

      They see design thinking as “a specific approach to Innovation, implemented by companies to solve problems and/or seize new opportunities; it is not a method which focuses solely on product/service aesthetics, structure, and design but which aims at building a journey, a customer-oriented experience.”

      So design thinking is much less about what a product looks or feels like and a lot more about how it meets the expectations of the end user.  

      Contents:

      1. What’s the goal of design thinking? 

        The end goal of design thinking is identifying an innovative solution to a problem or opportunity.

      2. Why is it important to integrate strategic design thinking in your company culture?

        The secret lies in the fact that design runs through the heart of everything you do.

      3. How to create a design orientated company

        1. Stop trying to make things look ‘nice’
        2. Start talking about design as a process, not a commodity
        3. Base your design decisions on user data
        4. Incorporate design into every part of your operational processes
        5. Act quickly 

        Our growth plans →

        EssentialsStarterEliteHigh-growthBespoke
        Get started with digital business growthAccelerate your business expansionMore resource for ambitious companiesBest-in-class digital creative solutionsA tailored solution for your business
        £512 monthly Sign upNo commitment, cancel at any time
        Learn more
        £1499 monthly Sign upNo commitment, cancel at any time
        Learn more
        £2999 monthly Sign upNo commitment, cancel at any time
        Learn more
        £5999 monthly Sign upNo commitment, cancel at any time
        Learn more
        £ Bespoke monthly Contact usNo commitment, cancel at any time
        Learn more
      4. Strategic design thinking results in more loyal customers 

        Get it right and you will be rewarded with higher spending and passionate brand loyalty.

      What’s the goal of design thinking? 

      Back to contents

      Stratego sum up the end goal of design thinking as identifying an innovative solution to a problem or opportunity which satisfies 3 core criteria:

      Desirability 

      Think about what clients might want but lack, walking in their shoes and immerse yourself in their daily routine instead of trying to convince them a product or service is “good”

      Feasibility

      Identify themes and models, through observation and field activities, trying to build relationships and deepening insights to check how consumers react, adjusting the product, its price, or positioning

      Viability

      Define the winning solution, in terms of sustainability and profitability, identifying any activity or resource the company will actually have to produce to communicate, distribute and deliver this solution.

      Why is it important to integrate strategic design thinking in your company culture?

      Back to contents

      Asked to think about a design orientated company, you might well come up with Apple. But what makes Apple a design orientated company – rather than just another company that produces well designed products? 

      The secret lies in the fact that design runs through the heart of everything Apple does. It’s embedded in its culture and evidenced at every level, from its executive down. In short, it’s strategic.

      So how else can you identify a brand that employs design thinking? 

      Get a free consultation →

      Do you want free expert advice about your project? Yes, get my appointment →

      Econsultancy highlights accommodation provider Airbnb, where “each project team…incudes a project manager whose explicit role is to represent the customer, ”noting that “by shifting their design focus to put user experience first, Airbnb has created one of the most navigable, informative and enjoyable platforms to use, whether accessed from a web browser or the app.”

      Econsultancy also picks out Ikea as an example of a design led brand. Sure, it’s the go to place for affordable flat pack furniture but that’s not all. In recent years, it’s changed its business model from large out of town warehouses to new city centre store formats, with “tech supporting multichannel shopping that Ikea has quietly been perfecting.”

      Ikea has also perfected its offering of space saving solutions, with Econsultancy pointing out that “the brand has risen to the challenge in response to the increasing need for smart storage solutions in a world where space in the home is limited and the rental economy is booming.” Yet again, it’s another brand for whom design is at the heart of its strategic development. 

      How to create a design orientated company

      Back to contents

      As far back as 2014, Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, declared:

      “There’s no longer any real distinction between business strategy and the design of the user experience.”

      She added “The last best experience that anyone has anywhere, becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere, and the quality of that experience is entirely dependent on the use of individualized information.”

      So how does this relate to your company? And how can you go about changing culture to ensure that you become design orientated in everything you do? 

      Management consultants McKinsey & Company believe that the key to building a design-driven culture is empathy: “Using empathy to put customers, clients, and end users at the center of the problem-solving equation is the foundation of design thinking.”

      See also →  Website audit guide – complete how to, tools and detailed step-by-step (2022 update)

      1. Stop trying to make things look ‘nice’

      Back to contents

      Good design considers not only what’s most likely to delight the consumer but importantly what will get the product used for its given purpose, whether it’s an app or a kettle. Therefore don’t focus on arbitrary decisions such as colours, fonts and visual styles at the expense of an overall strategy based on your target audience. 

      2. Start talking about design as a process, not a commodity

      Back to contents

      Design is a process, not a commodity. Of course, a well-designed armchair might well be a “lovely piece of design” but if it looks beautiful at the expense of functioning as a chair, then it’s failed to deliver on the brief.

      Workplace design should be seen as an important process of decision making and problem solving.

      3. Base your design decisions on user data

      Back to contents

      Really understand your customer. Not just what they want but why they want it. Look at the data. And then look around it. McKinsey says “Plot out customer decision journeys to understand exactly what motivates people, what bothers them, and where there are opportunities for creating delightful experiences.”

      See also →  Why you need a digital-first approach for your brand design

      4. Incorporate design into every part of your operational processes

      Back to contents

      This requires a culture shift but it’s important to make design a repeating part of your operations. Reviewing data and re-thinking existing products and services is just as important as the initial design of something new.

      5. Act quickly 

      Back to contents

      McKinsey note that “In a design-driven culture, companies are unafraid to release a product that is not totally perfect.” 

      It is therefore far more preferable to go to market with a minimally viable product and learn from customer feedback, which can then be incorporated into the next build and an updated version released as soon as possible. 

      Strategic design thinking results in more loyal customers 

      Back to contents

      We know that, as consumers, customers are increasingly demanding that services and products both meet their needs as well as delight them with rewarding experiences. 

      It’s no easy task. But get it right and you will be rewarded with higher spending and passionate brand loyalty.

      Looking for advice on integrating strategic design thinking in your company culture?

      Is your company’s current approach to design reactive? Distracted by the asthetics of what ‘looks good’ rather than what works and what meets your clients’ needs?  

      Could your company benefit from a more strategic design approach that is anchored in what best benefits the user experience?

      UX design lies at the heart of everything we do at Creative.onl. If you are looking for support on integrating strategic design thinking into your company culture, then get in touch with Creative.onl

      We are a small and friendly team with proven expertise in: 

      • App development
      • Web development 
      • UX design
      • Digital strategy
      • Responsive web design
      • Graphic design
      • Video animation 
      • Content
      • Marketing support 

      And we would love to help you with the design and build of your next product. 

      Whatever your requirements, we would be more than happy to talk you through the creative processes of any of our services and products.    

      Kick start your business expansion →

      Get a specialist business growth plan

      View pricing →

      Latest insight articles →


      Let us show you how we can accelerate your business growth using design, tech and content →


                 

      hello@creative.onl

      +44 (0)116 318 0488

      More from us →