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Design-Led Strategy

How corporate strategy becomes embedded across all levels of the organization.


In the past ten years "design thinking" trend has exploded. Starting from Silicon Valley start-ups, this methodology, which provides a solution-based approach to solving problems thanks to creativity, empathy with consumers, and teamwork, is spread across almost all sectors. It is applied not only to create new digital products or technologies but also to develop new services. Design thinking uses divergent thinking to find as many possible solutions to a given problem, making the brain work without barriers. After, it uses convergent thinking, which is the opposite: it is about coming up with the single best solution to a given problem. The design thinking process is non-linear, and focused on outcome delivery: its phases can be iterated many times before coming to a solution. Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Testing are all equally important and characterized by a human-centric approach. Design thinking has a strong focus on understanding customer motivators, and on empathy. Another characteristic is that it minimizes uncertainty and the risk of failure, thanks to the engagement of the customer early on in the process to validate, or not, your initial assumptions.

This characteristic makes design thinking useful almost everywhere: from internal problem solutions to business strategy, corporate communication, and more generally stakeholder relations.

Design Strategy is the term used to describe the nexus between corporate strategy and design thinking. Corporate strategy is the traditional method that businesses and other similar entities used to identify, plan, and achieve their long-term objectives. Design Thinking is a methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems by engaging end users.

Design Strategy is a concept that has been developed to describe a particular way of doing corporate strategy or one part of the strategy, by engaging constantly consumers, end users, and employees. Simply put, by engaging stakeholders.“It is corporate strategy taken outside of the boardroom” cit. Prof. Harris, University of Sidney.

This is a change of perspective. Corporate strategy is often detailed documents coming from a top-down process managed by C-levels. Managers use a lexicon difficult to understand for the frontline, and for most of the stakeholders (information asymmetry) so corporate strategy seems not useful for them. With Design Strategy it is possible to change the process to bottom-up making strategy an understandable and tangible tool, as it is tested by end users.

Design Strategy is a structured process. It uses tools such as the Business Model Canvas and customer personas, and deeper primary market research to build a strong pillar for the ideation, prototyping, and testing part.

In the end, what's the value added by this methodology?

It transforms the corporate strategy from a powerpoint document for managers to a tool embedded by all levels of the organization and ready to be shared with stakeholders.



Design Strategy is the nexus between design thinking and corporate strategy. It is an innovative methodology to develop corporate strategy engaging end users in the process.

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I'm Francesca Concina and here I share articles and news about IPR. I write about innovation, crisis management, stakeholder engagement.

I have a MBA, Master in Integrated Communication for Business and organizations, Master in New Media, bachelor in Public Relations.

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