Dynamics of Strategy and Design
Strategy, like design, is about making difficult choices: what’s essential, what’s different, and perhaps most importantly, what to leave out. The consequences of such choices include the potential to reshape markets, shift the locus of value for customers, precipitate the emergence of new industries, create new wealth, and distribute technological capability throughout society. But these choices also simultaneously result in the consumption of resources, demands on attention, the foreclosing of opportunities, limiting of perception, and destruction of value. What are the right choices to make, and how do you get better at making them? This course will help students enhance their ability to understand and anticipate such consequences, and to deliberately influence them through their strategic design choices. Recognizing that each successive choice reshapes the playing field, we will concentrate on dynamic methods and processes for continually reevaluating risk and maximizing the value created and captured through design.
Even many experienced product designers lack the tools necessary to understand and articulate the broader implications of their work within a complex and dynamic business environment. The most successful designers are better at recognizing the roots of strategic change and opportunity, assessing the potential business, social, and cultural impacts of their work, and determining what to do and who to involve in getting it done. In this course, students will develop competency in strategic analysis, concepting, and decision-making, and gain practice in articulating strategic arguments for their work.
The course will offer a hands-on approach to analyzing and developing strategy, and students are encouraged to take active responsibility for not only their own learning, but that of their peers as well. Students will be presented with ideas, tools, and case studies to shape their understanding of what strategy is and how it works, from the course instructor and from 3-5 guest lecturers who will speak about their experiences creating, launching, and managing innovative businesses. (Guests will include entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporate managers, social innovators, and leaders from the startup community.) Active participation in discussions and exercises will be required. There will be 2 individual projects to complete and 3 small group projects. Projects will be presented and critiqued in class.
Students in this course will come away with a set of tools to:
- Identify the drivers of social, cultural, economic, and technological change
- Match products to emerging and changing markets
- Develop strategies to capture market value
- Create and/or change capabilities to reflect changing market and technological dynamics
- Understand and model basic product/service economics
- Describe the strategic benefits of a product/service beyond simple ROI
The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen
The Innovator’s Guide to Growth, by Scott D. Anthony et al.
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, by Michael Porter
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Gamechangers, and Challengers, by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
Harvard Business Review on Advances in Strategy, Harvard Business School Press
Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, by Atul Gawande
“Design [is not a] Strategy”, by John Zapolski (presentation)
“Good Question! The Eight Best Questions We Got While Raising Venture Capital” by Glenn Kelman, TechCrunch guest blog post