How is Design Strategic? Clarifying the Concept of Strategic Design

John Stevens, James Moultrie, Nathan Crilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is claimed that design services have an increasing (and increasingly recognised) potential for strategic influence in organisations. This paper is a theoretical exploration of this claim, and of the meaning of design in the context of business strategy. Design’s capabilities and influences, as recognised in the domain of design management, are related to the well-known, established strategy concepts. These include positioning and differentiation (Porter’s value chain and five forces), views based on internal resources (knowledge, learning, competence), and, briefly, on strategy as an entrepreneur’s personal vision. In an attempt to clarify the concept of strategic design, three ways are proposed in which design might be termed ‘strategic’: competing by ‘high design’ can be a strategy in itself, design can help implement strategic positioning, and design methods (or ‘design thinking’) can inform strategy formulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
JournalDesign Principles and Practices: An International Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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