Sense and symbolic objects: Strategic sensemaking through design

John Stevens

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

12 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reports on an ongoing investigation into one aspect of the design thinking phenomenon, namely the use of designed artifacts — sketches, renderings, graphics, models and prototypes — as symbolic objects in strategy making and implementation. It examines the conceptual overlap between design and the strategic cognition perspective, which considers cognitive processes and structures involved in strategic decision making, particularly the phenomenon of sensemaking. It is primarily a theoretical exploration, but draws on two short testimonies from designers. The specific conceptual connection between design practice and strategic cognition theory is potentially valuable to business leaders and managers involved with innovation, design management and strategic decisions. Preliminary findings suggest sensemaking activities by designers generate innovative future concepts with far-reaching strategic implications; designed artifacts aid sensemaking and sensegiving by management in exploring new business opportunities and directions. This paper is an early draft of a fuller account to be published in 2013 (AIEDAM Special Issue, Spring 2013, Vol.27, No.2, Studying and Supporting Design Communication, Edited by: Maaike Kleinsmann & Anja Maier).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventDMI: Design Research Conference/Boston, Leading Innovation Through Design - Boston, USA
Duration: 1 Jan 2012 → …


ConferenceDMI: Design Research Conference/Boston, Leading Innovation Through Design
Period1/01/12 → …
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Sense and symbolic objects: Strategic sensemaking through design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this