One year after the launch the book has definitely grown out of my hands. Since then, the book has found its way globally. Yay! :)
The feedback has been overwhelming, and it has been a pleasure to give talks and chat with people all over the world. I will celebrate by sharing a story taken from the book’s preface.
My father, Wilhelm Lefevre Grimsgaard, made his career in advertising, and he taught me early on how to use what he called a work platform, which in reality was a strategic platform. That is how I started working strategically, without being aware that’s what I was doing.
I got my education on Oslo National Academy of the Arts. After a few years of practice in a design agency I experienced a great strategic ‘aha’ moment when one of our marketing consultants organised a strategic workshop with one of our clients. I then thought, ‘I can do this, too.’ This was the beginning of a number of strategic design processes and an exciting professional development, which has led me to write this book on design and strategy. A triggering factor was my need to share knowledge, something I have been doing ever since I held my first Mac course in the late 1980s. I was then an experienced Mac user as I bought their very first model back in 1984. So, design and teaching became my thing besides running a design business for many years, until I was appointed a full professor and went all in.
Teaching is a great responsibility that constantly requires acquiring new knowledge. As time went by, I realised that the more I learned, the less I knew. It became essential to put the knowledge into a system and gradually improve it. I started writing compendiums for the students and organised them into a system of phases based on the progress of the design process. This way, I got the idea of writing a book on processes and methods based on the framework of this phase structure. Writing this book has been a challenging and interesting journey. I have interviewed designers, strategists and social science experts, dived into old and new literature, and read literally tons of research articles and online stuff. Through this extensive research, I have refined the phase structure in order to ensure that it can work across design disciplines and have filled it with professional content. It turned out to be a demanding task that required a lot more effort than I had ever imagined. Not least because over the past decades there have been some major changes in the way we work with design, which have led people to perceive design differently. Design thinking, iteration and user-experience are among the many recent methods businesses and designers adopt in order to create attractive products and services. Large corporations see the advantages of design thinking, not only for creating visual solutions, but also as a key factor in problem solving and business development.
Design and strategy are inextricably linked. For a long time I have been aware that there is not one single answer when it comes to design. I have now also learned that there are no such thing as a single solution when it comes to strategy. Both strategy and design are major disciplines, and within these fields there are numerous underlying disciplines and executive professions. I have tried to identify the basics of some of the different areas you might encounter in a strategic design process. My greatest challenge has been to limit myself, to stay true to my initial concept, and remember that the main process is the most important thing to explain. At the same time, I have also dived a bit below the surface, offering some special treats throughout the book. Everything you will read about in my book can be explored further in specialised literature, articles and online. I leave it to you, the reader, to dive deeper into the areas you find most fascinating. I have not emphasised explaining how to design a finished product for a client, however, I have laid the groundwork for it by showing the processes and methods that can be used regardless of the specific task you have to tackle. My choice of content in the different phases is influenced by my background as a graphic designer, where identity development and branding are key. This knowledge will hopefully be useful for most companies across various design disciplines. The overall strategic design process I have developed can be used in any project.
Having written this book I feel a tremendous desire to know more, read more, and discover more. I feel like I have opened a treasure chest full of knowledge, processes and methods. Many will recognise traditional methods, some will recognise new ones, and yet others will find something missing. Some may also disagree with something. If so, it’s actually a good thing because by disagreeing, you become more aware of what you personally think. Besides, some interesting debates might ensue. I bring a voice in through what I have included in the book, and through the way I have defined the strategic design process.
Thoughts from the Writing Process
During the writing of the Norwegian version of the book in 2015-2018, Design Thinking had suddenly become a prominent topic that everyone was discussing. There was a shift in how businesses embraced and discussed design. I pondered whether "Design Thinking" should be the title of the book, but I ultimately decided to remain faithful to my original concept of exploring a strategic design process. Instead, I chose to delve into Design Thinking as a design methodology.
When working on the English edition in 2021-2023, sustainability came full circle. I considered whether I should write a book solely focused on sustainability, given its current significance. Once again, I opted to adhere to my initial idea of addressing a strategic design process. However, I made the decision to incorporate more content about sustainability where it naturally fit into the process. Simultaneously, I was mindful not to greenwash the book (as reflected in its distinct color, different from the green of the Norwegian version). And I thought that strategy and goals are crucial for achieving success in sustainability.
In general, I aimed to prevent buzzwords from overshadowing the content, preferring to discuss them in a professional manner that transcends current trends. Nevertheless, the design profession is profoundly influenced by the passage of time, emerging technologies, societal shifts, and environmental concerns. Consequently, I made several updates and introduced new material in the English edition.
Also read: Launching Design and Strategy
Grimsgaard, W. (2023). Design and Strategy. A Step-by-Step Guide. Routledge, Oxon/NY. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003223955
Norwegian version: Grimsgaard, W. (2018). Design og strategi. Prosesser og metoder for strategisk utvikling av design. Cappelen Damm Akademisk, Oslo.