Understanding the Role of Design as a Practice for Strategy Development

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Conference Proceeding
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Global environmental and social challenges are forcing organisations to reconsider how to generate value and growth. As customers seek value beyond satisfying personal needs toward societal concerns and capital markets support firms with a social purpose, the meaning of creating sustainable strategic advantage is challenged. Over the last decade, many organisations have adopted design-led approaches to pursue strategic innovation that delivers value to customers and stakeholders. The rise of design has resulted in diverse applications across contexts – managers are now working in more 'designerly ways' to innovate products and services and increasingly develop new strategic directions. Yet, we know little about what defines 'strategic design' as a professional practice or how strategists can effectively leverage it to respond to economic change or even broader consumer and shareholder demands. This study explores the rise of design (thinking) in strategy development and examines the opportunities within strategic management through a strategy-as-practice lens. We reviewed the key literature spanning strategy-as-practice, design thinking and design theory, and strategic design as it relates to strategic management – to establish a theoretical basis for further researching the practices of design as a strategy practice. We believe that the time is right to critically review the placement of design thinking related to creating strategy and establishing strategic design as a strategy practice. Our conceptual framework of ‘strategic design as a practice’ consolidates and aligns design- led approaches with strategic management theory. We also suggest future avenues for research.
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