Design As Strategy: How Design Can Improve Your Business Outcomes

Design thinking. is it a methodology, mindset, trend, the new must in business acumen, or all of the above?

Regardless of your interpretation, it has been around for quite a while. The bottom-line is most leaders still don’t understand how exactly it helps improve or drive new business outcomes.


Ultimately it stands for innovation, and that goes beyond the lone wolf or high-profile entrepreneurial maverick. It’s a team sport that requires interdisciplinary collaboration; when guided properly, innovation allows meaningful changes to blossom in the accounting department just as much or more as in the new product or new business department.

The trick is to think like a designer. When drafting a new idea on a business model canvas you are using a framework to design a business. You are a business designer, venture designer, process designer or a whatever you want to call it that uses design principles to create innovative solutions.

In a world of flux, we need this new mindset and accompanying toolbox to step outside of our comfort zone in order to start collaborating and start solving systemic problems. The verb design, no longer stands for pretty looking things, it now stands for function before form, that function is defined through a deep understanding of a user’s needs.

It’s all about the full experience the user has with a product and service, but it’s also about the business model the business designed to deliver that experience to the user.

On this episode of The Big Bang podcast Julio Salazar and Miguel Melgarejo of Cirklo, an innovation consultancy based in Mexico, join me to discuss how a mindset imbued with design principles can improve business outcomes.

Here are some questions we discussed:

  • Fundamentally, what is design thinking?
  • What is your definition of great design?
  • What does this look like on a day to day basis inside companies?
  • What do you need in order to make design thrive inside an organization?
  • What does a design team look like?
  • How do you convince leaders that investing in design is worth it?
  • What are some key business outcomes that result from being design-led?
  • Why is design still seen as a fluffy concept?
  • How do you turn design thinking into strategy?
  • How do you create an organization where design can thrive?
  • What’s next for design?
  • At a tactical level, how can companies become design-driven?
  • In terms of culture, what’s important to have?

What is your experience driving design within an organization?

Watch the live recording:

Let us know what you think on Twitter @jorgebarba and @adrianpedrin, leave a comment on SoundCloud.

The Big Bang is a weekly podcast. Tune in every Tuesday for more discussions on what’s possible; be sure to subscribe on SoundCloud.

Intro audio is by Arturo Arriaga, outro audio is Candyland by Guy J.

Originally published at on March 3, 2016.

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