Can you design my website, app or marketing materials?

Not right now, although we have a lot of partners who are brilliant at that kind of work! Our strength is in helping you set the strategic course for that work, making sure it aligns not only with your brand and business goals, but the needs of your employees, partners and customers/users.

 

What is design strategy?

Traditional approaches to strategy tend to focus on analysis and critical thinking, both of which are important and valuable. But in a world that is constantly changing, it can lead to “analysis paralysis,” trying to quantify or predict things that are unknown and in movement.

Design strategy is a more holistic and empathetic approach to shaping strategy, rooted in the ideas of design thinking. It’s a people-centric process that looks beyond the data and objectives of a single need, to understanding how the relationships between people, technology, environment, and wider business or community goals impact success and growth.

 As a result, design strategy isn’t just a brilliant tool to inform the design of things (products, houses, advertising, etc.), but also the design of systems, from creating better services to the design of organizations.

 

What do you mean by co-creation? Is that “design by committee?” Are you trying to make everyone a designer?

No at all. We highly respect and value designers and are not trying to minimize their expertise. Similarly, we’re not fans of decisions (or design) by committee. That can really slow things down.

However, we firmly believe that the best ideas and solutions come from the diverse voices that inhabit a system, including leadership, product owners, technologists, designers, employees and end users/customers. We use co-creation (also referred to as co-design, collaborative design, or participatory design) to harness the insights and wisdom of those voices.

Co-creation uses prompts, drawing, and other “creating” activities to evoke deeper storytelling, which in turn, informs design strategy and the design process.

 

Are your services just for startups or businesses? What about non-profits or community organization?

Our services work for a lot of different contexts. While we typically work with startups or established businesses, we love working with non-profits and other organizations, as they are designing critical services to meet the needs of our community. (In fact, social innovation is a particular area of interest!)

We are also interested in working with education, helping bring the skills of design thinking and design strategy to the next generation of entrepreneurs and game-changers.

 

Holy cow you ask a lot of questions! What’s up with that?

Sorry...We’re a terribly curious bunch of folks.

But, the more we understand about you, and the context of what you’re trying to explore, the better we’re able to determine our approach and what we need to learn (i.e. knowledge gaps).

We love information. We gobble it up regularly with healthy sides of observation. And chocolate.

 

Umm…What do you mean, “You don’t know?”

Ah…We’ve reached that point.

While we’d all like to think that every engagement is on a steadily upward path to enlightenment, the reality is, each journey has moments of uncertainty and ambiguity. In startup culture, this is sometimes called the “trough of sorrow.”

Maybe we learned something unexpected. Maybe we feel like we’re not learning anything new. Maybe we’re utterly and completely lost. And we hate that feeling. Really hate it. Like to the point we’re tempted to go back to what we know, just to get out of this place.

But these moments of “I don’t know” can ultimately yield tremendous insights, as Tim Brown (from IDEO) advocates. And with buzz words like VUCA floating about (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), it’s kind of part of today’s environment.

But trust us...it will turn around. Always does. If we just let go and reframe our senses, a critical piece of insight will come into view that provides clarity and puts everything else into place.

 

Got it! So how do we get started?

Every engagement is unique, so we like to start with a 30-minute conversation.

First, we’d like to learn more about you and what you’re trying to accomplish. What’s motivating the need, and what do you feel will make the initiative successful? What are some of your questions or concerns? (This is usually where we start getting terribly curious and ask lots of questions.)

Then, we’ll discuss how we might work together. You and your team will be an integral part of the journey, so we’ll talk about each of our respective needs and expectations. We may even share some early ideas of how we might approach your initiative.

From there, we’ll put together a formal proposal, or scope of work, to officially start our engagement.

If you’re ready to get started or have any other questions, please contact us, and we can connect pretty quickly.