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How to present the importance of Design Strategy to your CEO?

By using a simple model it’s possible to visualise strategic design thinking in order to establish effective communication to the leadership of a major company. But return on investment of a design strategy in that simple model is usually when the product and/or service are already in decline. To gain a higher return on investment, companies design a continuous innovation pipeline. Although that kind of strategic investment has a negative return, in the beginning, there is a possibility to gain the higher added value of an investment/s.

The short answer to the question in the title is: by visualizing its return on investment (ROI).

The manifestation of a design strategy, namely the creative process itself, is often or even in general not linear, regimented, easily measured, or even described successfully. There is also one other fact, namely that design strategy is rarely seen by others in organizations as strategic or even as a possible leadership model of an organization. One of the possibilities design strategists or even designers have, is to visualize strategic design thinking in order to establish effective communication to the leadership of a major company. A simple model of how to present the return on investment of a design strategy is visualised in the Figure below. The first Figure presents when usually a company invites design into a major strategic project, looking for a return. Usually, that is in point X of the first Figure when the product and/or service are already in decline. The best that could be done by design and/or design strategy is presented by line Y.

Figure: Presenting major design effort in an ordinary company

Presenting major design effort in an ordinary company

And what would be the possibility to gain a higher return on investment, be that development or redevelopment of corporate identity, new products, and/or new services? And in that process create also an innovation pipeline.

The possibility exists by creating a continuous pipeline of innovation, without even reinventing the wheel each time out (Dziersk, 2008, p. 125). The Figure below presents such a possibility by an example of a truly visionary company. We know that every investment, especially strategic investment has a negative return at the beginning of the investment. By creating a continuous wheel a possibility exists to even lower this first phase of negative cash flows. And not least, then there is a possibility to gain the higher added value of an investment/s.

Figure: Presenting major design effort in a visionary company

Presenting major design effort in a visionary company

Source:
Dziersk, Mark. 2008. Visual Thinking: A Leadership Strategy. in Lockwood T. and Walton t. (ed). Building Design Strategy. Using Design to Achieve Key Business Objectives. Allworth Press. New York. 257 p.

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