Strategic Design at Iconstorm

Strategic design: Our Framework for Innovation

If you wonder why your carefully set up innovation team often fails to deliver meaningful innovations, or why great ideas get stuck in prototyping, Strategic Design might be the answer.

In many companies, design has played a secondary role in the innovation process up to now. Designers often stand at the end of the process and take care of aesthetics. Yet it has long been clear that design methods, used strategically, can boost the innovation process. For example, do your teams not come up with enough suitable product ideas? Or do the ideas not make it out of the prototype lab? Strategic Design helps remedy problems like this.

Strategic Design Ladder
Strategic Design: Basics and Impact
We developed our Strategic Design framework to make our clients more innovative. It can be integrated on and support all functional or operative levels of an organization. Its use will foster a common vision among everybody involved in the process, and flow into a common language that is akin to an operating system for design in the organization. Teams align in focus and purpose leading to more effective work and results that are ready for further use. To achieve this, Strategic Design combines proven tools from our industry that govern the whole design process and help transform goog ideas into commercially viable innovations. Last, but not least, the work also benefits the involved stakeholders and boosts both design competency of individuals, teams, and the organization.

Strategic Design boosts business development and innovation

Creating an environment for innovation

For most companies, innovation is at the center of strategic business development. However, compared to production or logistics, innovation is less predictable and harder to control. Innovation projects are a journey into the unknown, and have to be treated as such. But the right conditions for this journey often go against the grain of traditional organizational processes and ideas of efficiency. Therefore, these conditions have to be created first. With our idea of a Strategic Design framework, we want to provide a tool you can use to embark on this journey in order to make innovation an engaging and productive challenge.

Image: Meaningful innovation arises between technology, economy, ecology, and the human contextn
Meaningful Innovation
With Strategic Design you can structure the development of meaningful innovation. Meaningful innovation solves the ambiguities between questions of human and economic needs, technological possibility, and ecological imperatives. They transform complexity into simplicity and are thus successful in the long run.

Image: Building Blocks of a Design Culture
Building Blocks of a Design Culture
Using design methods effectively hinges on the right mindset. There are no universal rules for establishing this successfully; however, with Strategic Design you can find the right starting points to create awareness for and acceptance of the craft.

Structuring creativity for meaningful innovation

A human-centered process

Strategic Design is focused on humans and their needs. Thus, it will also shape the work around the needs of the participants, making collaboration more effective, satisfying, and engaging. Used in the right way, this will lead to the process spreading through the organization and the cultivation of a new way of working. It is a communicative, interactive approach, and thus best learned in practice through immersion in a process that is tailored exactly for the needs of the team.

For example, during a selected project you might introduce the participants to the specific elements of Strategic Design. We might support you with designers, coaches, or communication experts and foster relevant competencies and methodological knowledge within the team. This takes place in a specifically modified design process that combines goal-oriented work with frequent team retros for reflection. At the end of the project you will have developed prototypes and fitting business models for further use as well as sustainable competency in your team, so that you can continue using the framework in the future.

Managing the innovation process

From ideas to results

Far from being a laissez-faire creativity fest, Strategic Design maintains keeps the innovation process focused on its destination. To this end, we use a combination of design process management and business development tools, some of which are displayed below.

Image: The Design Process
Double Diamond
The design process structures alternating phases of divergent and convergent thinking patterns. Team alignment and mindset are key to get from many ideas, to the right idea, and finally to concrete results.

Image: Strategic Design Sprint
Strategic Design Sprint
Our Strategic Design sprints are a process pattern that introduces you to the framework in an efficient and short-term project.

Image: Prototyping at Iconstorm
Ideate and test. From simple to highly sophisticated, prototypes help efficiently validate assumptions in the innovation process.

Image: Business Model Canvas
Business Design
Business Design is essential in our framework to combine prototypes with fitting business models. According to lean startup, ideas are efficiently tested for marketability.

Innovation starts with individuals

Generative collaboration

We have developed Strategic Design as a form of generative collaboration within the agency, but also for dealing with our clients. Generative collaboration means that people contribute of their own accord to create something new. The prerequisites for this are an appropriate working environment and trust. Trust that one’s own abilities, ideas and objections are valued and weaknesses accepted. In this atmosphere, more and better ideas emerge; criticism inevitably becomes constructive, promotes the design process or contributes to team development. Of course, this only works if the appreciation of the individual is genuine.

In order to achieve high-quality work results and at the same time expand the team’s capabilities, Strategic Design is based on a dual steering principle in which you optimise both the design process and the collaboration and personal development of those involved. Since our framework is customizable, you don’t have to start with a big transformation. We can also develop tangible, connectable results together on a selective basis, for example in a joint sprint or in one of your existing innovation projects. Of course, we also coach the team in the application of the methods and principles.

Getting started with Strategic Design