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Live, Actionable and Tangible: Teaching design strategy

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Making design strategy actionable and live for inexperienced designers is an
ongoing challenge. Often educated around a specific design discipline, and
taught to respond to a brief, they have difficulties in setting a strategic intent,
and the means by which to get there. The need is to get the balance right in
terms of getting them to the right level of competency, ensuring sufficient
humility to be effective, being able to see at different scales of view. This
paper presents a new methodology for bringing design strategy to students
from different disciplines to work together and understand the process of
design strategy forming in a transdisciplinary way. The pilot is based upon
strategic design, management and design management theory, as well as
core design approaches, such as iteration, visualisation, prototyping and
sharing. It involved engaging a broad range of design educated students:
architects, game designers, social innovation, visual and interaction
designers, all of whom were new to design strategy. The challenge was to
expose them to a new scale - the strategic scale of thinking; to give them a
chance to become familiar and comfortable with the rich variety of tools from
design management, and management strategy and methods; to help them
become flexible around different perspectives and approaches used by design
strategists; and, in addition, to do this in a short period of time. The approach
involved group exploration through live projects. The scope of learning was
broadened by introducing a wide range of strategic subjects in the form of
commercial, not for profit and social businesses. This range meant everyone
got to consider different business models and impacts, ensuring a deeper
strategic flexibility. In strategic design we can force the design strategy to the
point of tangible output. Extending the proposed strategy by making it real
allows us to imaginatively share our thoughts on its potential. Overall it is possible to explore how building confidence allows designers to consider
themselves as more than producers, but as authors of strategic futures that
extends out into the entrepreneurial space.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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