3 core elements to a good strategy (and how they relate to a strategic design practice)

Bruno Rigolino on

What’s a good strategy?

Design is increasingly extending its reach to more strategic roles. So a few years ago, when I was leading the design practice of a technology consultancy company, I took some time to improve my strategy repertoire and answer that question.

Among the books and papers I’ve read, there’s one book I keep referring to friends and colleagues: “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy” by Richard Rumelt.

The book sets a helpful perspective to understanding and creating strategies by comparing the good ones and the bad ones. After reading the book, I started thinking about how the three essential elements of a good strategy relate to a strategic design practice:

#1 Diagnosis. Every good strategy requires describing the nature of a challenge. Design is helpful to understand complex situations and create artifacts that help simplify reality to frame critical aspects and work on them.

#2 Guiding Policy. After understanding the challenge, it’s essential to set the constraints. A Design Policy can work along with a Guiding Policy as an artifact to organize functional, formal, and semantic aspects of a project: from legal and privacy guidelines to brand, business, and technology requirements, for example.

#3 Coherent Actions. These are the tasks that need to be done to move the situation from its current state to a new desired one. Usually, the coherent actions of a design project translate to many artifacts: from documentation and diagrams to prototypes or the first version of a product or service.