Design Management Academy 2017 Hong Kong

Track 5.a Design practices for effective strategic design

*Gerda Gemser, RMIT University, Australia
Giulia Calabretta, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Fleur Deken, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ingo Karpen, RMIT University, Australia
* contact:

Organizations are increasingly adopting a design approach to define and implement their (innovation) strategies (De Bont, 2016), using design to leverage organizational transformations, and even embracing design principles as the overarching philosophy that guides their entire organization (Calabretta, Gemser and Karpen, 2016). With design becoming more strategic, design professionals need to master a set of strategic practices – routinized ways of working – to address complex managerial challenges. For example, acting on a strategic level requires a strategic designer to co-influence and co-decide not only on desirability but also, concurrently, on feasibility and viability. Research on strategic design as practiced is, however, relatively light. There is some research on design practices in the context of strategic decision-making (e.g. Liedtka, 2014; Calabretta, Gemser, and Wijnberg, 2016); there are case studies on effective tools and methods (see e.g. Calabretta, Gemser and Karpen, 2016); and there is some research on needed abilities and potential roles for strategic designers (e.g. Miller and Moultrie, 2013; Seidel, 2000). However, more knowledge is needed so that professional designers can effectively operate on a more strategic level.

In this track we would like to contribute to developing this knowledge by focusing on effective practices for strategic design. We invite research that answers questions such as: Which practices (and related tools, techniques and abilities) are particularly helpful for a designer when operating on a strategic level? Which practices help strategic designers to balance desirability with viability and feasibility?  Which challenges and opportunities do designers encounter when practicing design at a strategic level? By means of what practices can designers gain and sustain a more strategic role in organizational settings?

Indicative references

Calabretta, G. Gemser G., and N.M. Wijnberg (2016). The interplay between intuition and rationality in strategic decision making: A paradox perspective. Organization Studies. Published online before print July 29, 2016. doi:10.1177/0170840616655483

Calabretta, G., Gemser G., and Karpen I. (eds). (2016). Strategic design: Eight essential practices every strategic designer must master. BIS Publishers, Amsterdam Netherlands. ISBN: 978 90 6369 4456

De Bont, C. (2016). Lessons from china: Paradise or graveyard for strategic designers. Journal of Design, Business & Society2(1), 9–22. doi:10.1386/dbs.2.1.9_1

Liedtka, J. (2015). Perspective: Linking design thinking with innovation outcomes through cognitive bias reduction. Journal of Product Innovation Management32(6), 925–938. doi:10.1111/jpim.12163

Miller, K., & Moultrie, J. (2013). Understanding the skills of design leaders. Design Management Journal8(1), 35–51. doi:10.1111/dmj.12002

Seidel, V. (2000). Moving from design to strategy the four roles of design‐led strategy consulting. Design Management Journal (Former Series)11(2), 35–40. doi:10.1111/j.1948-7169.2000.tb00017.x