Strategic Design for a Modern World

It may be a terrible cliché that our world is changing faster and faster each day, but the evidence is hard to ignore. As the rate of change increases our choices become much more important. 

The world has moved from a time when problems were relatively simple, noble and independent to an era of complex, fuzzy and interdependent challenges.

In the past, society has been well served by increasingly specific and copious silos of deep expertise, but today’s challenges require us to work at the intersection of different  knowledge domains. 

The solution is no longer in any one silo, but in the mix. As our contexts continue to evolve, a gap has grown between the sophistication of the problems we face, and the ability of our tools to handle that sophistication. This has left us highly skilled at engineering solutions, but often unable to see the true nature of the problems we face. It doesn’t matter how efficient, how perfect and how great our solutions are if they are answering the wrong question.

We see this in large complex organisations that need to shift their focus to outside in, and envision how to survive within a complex interconnected future. It is especially true for governments who are the owners of certain problems that are so vast, complex and important, that no single entity owns them. 

The legacy we have inherited is a three step process:

1. Decision makers come to consensus on what needs to be done 

2. The decision is assigned to a team or organisation

3. Finally, the solution that is decided on is designed and implemented 

It’s time for new tools. Tools that allow us to better understand the problem from the start, and apply future-oriented principles to increase innovation and competitive advantage within the organisation. 

Strategic Design acts as a multiplier within decision making. It enables a broader range of questions and potential solutions to be developed at a faster rate, and is most effective when brought in early.  Strategic Design applies some of the principles of traditional design to “big picture” systemic challenges like business growth, health care, education, and climate change. It redefines how problems are approached, identifies opportunities for action, and helps deliver more complete and resilient solutions. It is highly evidence based and leverages both big data to understand the WHAT, as well as thick data to understand the WHY. 

Let’s see what happens when decision-making is informed by strategic design. By bringing strategic designers into the conversation at the beginning, where key decisions are made, wider and  more comprehensive inputs can be applied to help frame the problem accurately. These inputs are used to play out the possible implications on communities, societies, businesses, families and individuals.

Embedding designers at key stages allows a rapid iteration through ideas, so that outcomes are still relevant by the time they’re developed. Using design to involve end-users also smooths this process.

By collaborating across silos, and by working in quick iterations, strategic design provides outcomes that are far more effective by reducing duplication of effort, and targeting solutions to deliver real and relevant value to both people and organisations. 

The best companies in the world spend up to 10% of their budget on research and development efforts so that they can make informed decisions about the future of their businesses. Very little of that effort is introspective, focussing on new ways of working.

We aim to fill that gap by fostering strategic design as a new tool for government and business, using a holistic lens across doing, thinking, feeling and wellbeing. 

At DesignChain, our mission is to help leaders see the architecture of problems. We assist decision-makers to view challenges from a big picture perspective, and provide guidance towards solutions that are more complete and consider all aspects of the problem. 

We are an innovation and strategic design consultancy with a team of strategic thinkers, makers and doers. We create impact through design, and scale through agile, lean and architecture disciplines. We add value to  organisations by helping to solve challenges in creative & human-centred ways.

We see ourselves as super-mixers, blending many different disciplines together to help our clients adapt faster to a changing world. 

Reach out to us, and see where we can partner with you to jointly solve some of your challenges.