Satyan Chawla
Designer | Photographer | Human

Thoughts, Ideas, Reflections

Design, Strategy and Strategy Design

These are my reflection after the Strategy Development course by Professor Tim Zak at Carnegie Mellon University.

In my four years of professional experience as a UX Designer, I have never come across an occasion where I was to develop business strategies for a company, but the area was so interesting to me and I was curious how a few people make decisions that impact lives of thousands of others who trust them and millions more who aren’t even aware that their lives are indirectly being affected by those decisions.

Another major reason for taking the course on Strategy Development was to understand the principles and skills of strategy and applying them in the world of design. My objective there was to understand how to create a strategy from the design point of view for a brand or a product and what is the process for implementing and executing this strategy at functional areas.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that every organisation, even NGOs have fierce competition and they hugely rely on a foundational strategy to survive. I started thinking if I could apply the three basic principles of strategy in the world of design

  • thinking to get unfair advantage within the rules of the game

  • achieving such an advantage that the competition walks out

  • its all about winning

Certainly there are numerous occasions where companies apply these principles while creating a brand language for their unique identity, creativity being their most powerful weapon and always striving to be different and recognisable by their consumers so they always stand out in the market and are the preferred choice of the loyal customer base so as to get ahead of competition.

Conglomerate Design

Just as a conglomerate would create strategies for its future and all the companies under its umbrella would align their mission to fulfil the strategy, the design language of a huge corporation is also reflective of this strategic structure. If we consider the case of Alphabet Inc. there are certain characteristics that are associated with the company which are reflected by all the companies, products and services that it owns directly or indirectly. This is a result of a central strategy in design and communication and a cohesive participation of all its components.

In this course I was able to understand the mystery of how executives translate strategies into executable goals and objectives and how does it get broken down into smaller parts down the line up to individual personnel who make certain changes in their everyday jobs and achieve small changes in results that all eventually add up to fulfil the strategic goals of the company. Of which I would write about in another post.

I feel that strategy is a lot about facts and data and the ability to make sense of it, but it’s also about experience, intuition nevertheless taking risks and aligning every single person into an unknown direction to conquer territories.

DesignSatyan Chawla