The Collision of Design and Strategy Consulting

26 Apr 2010|Darrel Rhea

Ideas about what Design is, how it creates value and how it is best executed have changed dramatically over the years. True, designers have certainly become more educated, skilled and professional, but the shifting definition of Design has evolved in response to the pressing issues of the day. The current debate on “Design Thinking” is one answer to the challenges that organizations are now facing and the failure of the established conceptual frameworks and toolsets to drive their growth in a sustainable way. Clearly, businesses need help — something is missing and the Design Profession is doing its best to fill that void.

The same can be said about the practices of Business Strategy. In fact, because strategy consultants have played such an influential role on how corporate strategy is developed today, the glaring inadequacies of the practice revealed by the global recession are causing them to scramble too. We’re going through a period where both Design and Strategy Consulting are rapidly evolving. What’s most interesting is that they are not just evolving but converging.

One important theme that both Design and Strategy are championing is a shift in how organizations think about their purpose…

It used to be that most organizations focused almost solely financial production systems. Now they are evolving beyond the commonly held notion that the primacy of shareholder value is the key metric of success. An emerging recognition in forward-thinking business leaders that long term growth plus sustainability is the true goal, but neither Design or Strategy, as separate disciplines, have been able to deliver tools to help organizations generate their purpose or make the tough choices that drive them towards those ends.

What’s next on the table for business strategy and those who are, or aspire to be, a Strategist? (Or for that matter, anyone hiring one.) My next blog will explore Walter Kiechel’s new book, “The Lords of Strategy.”

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