Notes from Influencing Strategy with Design

Ok, so these aren’t my notes–in fact, I didn’t even attend the event–but they’re probably the best description I’ve seen on how to increase the strategic impact of design work within a company.

Treat strategic influence like a design problem – Who is the “user” in your situation–who do you need to influence, and what are their goals?

Use your existing design skills – In a meeting with business and engineering folks, you’ll never out-business or out-engineer them. Instead, focus on the unique knowledge and skills you do have. You’re a designer–design stuff!

Start with the minimum you need to prove your concept – The grand vision is great, but look for ways to prove its value with quick projects.

The Role of the Victim – Designers often feel like victims of circumstances or constraints outside their control. Instead, it’s helpful to analyze why things went wrong, and what might have made it work better.

Selling Design – If they understand how we do our work, they’ll respect it more, right? Not if they don’t care how you do your work. Focus on what’s in it for them.

Providing Leadership – Don’t wait for a mandate–just step up and do what you think needs to be done.

Using Metrics – What metrics really reflect the core user experience? Which ones will influence how we do design? How might we start tracking those?

Pattern Recognition – Step back, take in all the elements of the product and experience, and look for patterns.

Story Telling – Design your presentation as a compelling story, rather than a set of metrics. Persuade with emotion.

Visual Communication – Again, you’re a designer–design!

Empathy – Bring personal stories and people’s needs into product decisions.