Strategic Design

Strategic Design integrates the concept of design thinking and design research (seeking out insights from users, consumers, experts and stakeholders) with active learning. The process blends analytical and creative tools to better explore the problem space and generate a broad range of solutions — to systemic challenges or opportunities. Cross functional team members share and mobilize a range of knowledge, experience and expertise. Essentially, design facilitates collaboration and communication across functions, communities and projects. Currently at UBC, strategic design is taught at Sauder’s (COMM388) and is open to students from all faculties.

The benefits of a design approach include:

  • Deep inquiry to focus on asking the right questions before seeking solutions.
  • Solutions that are created and tested by users, for users.
  • Prototyping and testing possible solutions before investing in change.
  • Collaboration and knowledge-sharing across communities, sectors and silos.
  • Significant ROI (return ratio of 25:1 in business for every dollar invested in design).

How do design processes and tools add value to project outcomes?

  • Problem Oriented. Design team focuses on defining the real problem or opportunity before identifying solutions.
  • Human-centered. Design solutions focus on people. Solutions are informed by observing and analyzing user experiences.
  • Innovative. Process does not deal in incremental change or efficiencies. Goal is to produce new solutions with meaningful impact.
  • Prototype-powered. Rapid testing of ideas in tangible, simple ways results in rapid learning and viable solutions.   “Fail early to succeed sooner.”
  • Collaborative. Cross-functional design teams, which include users, generate rich ideas and integrative insight to co-create informed solutions.
  • Knowledge-based. Inclusive approach mobilizes existing knowledge and expertise from all team members, users and secondary sources.
  • Solution-driven. Process is project-based with timelines and outcomes.

Design is best applied to:

  • Local and global issues that are complex and difficult to resolve.
  • Solutions that may be proposed before the true problem or opportunity is identified.
  • Deep inquiry into exploring and defining the root problem.
  • Social, cultural and business innovation

To learn more about strategic design at UBC, please contact Moura Quayle or Angèle Beausoleil.