On strategy and design

This one started a couple days ago, with a straightforward Tweet-query from Dave Gray:

  • davegray: “Strategy is design.” Agree or disagree? Why?

What followed was, for me, one of the best back-and-forth Twitter-conversations in recent weeks:

  • nickmalik: @davegray design is a method.  Strategy is a result.  Fair to say good strategy may result from design, or luck, or intuition
  • tetradian: @nickmalik @davegray would say that strategy tends to (or should?) come before design – or that they interweave with each other
  • oscarberg: Strategy (what & why) primarily requires knowledge, tactics (how, when) primarily requires skill.
  • davegray: @tetradian @nickmalik IMO a strategy is not a result. Profits, growth, revenue, etc. are results. A strategy is an approach. // hard for me to see how good strategy can be the result of luck. To me, it can’t be a strategy if it’s not intentional.
  • mikerollings: @davegray @nickmalik @tetradian strategy must influence and be influenced by execution – you must be open to learning from happy accidents
  • tetradian: @mikerollings @davegray @nickmalik “strategy must influence / be influenced by exec”n – open to learn from happy accidents” >strong agree
  • davegray: @mikerollings 100% agree. @nickmalik @tetradian
  • nickmalik: @davegray each step in a process produces a result.  The strategic dev step produces strategy as a result.  That step may use design, or not
  • davegray: @nickmalik sure, strategy is a result of a strategic dev process, like a plan is the result of a planning process. cc @tetradian
  • davegray: @tetradian @nickmalik it seems to me that design and strategy are both methods or approaches, ie, means to an end, with significant overlap.
  • davegray: @tetradian @mikerollings @nickmalik 140-character limit constraining. Will write a post & try to make my point more coherently 🙂
  • tetradian: @davegray @nickmalik in my exp., strategy sets out the intent, design is more about realising the intent (but also feeds back into strategy)
  • ruthmalan: @tetradian @davegray @nickmalik Agreed Tom — you’ve better phrased my (playful) reply to Dave yesterday. Also consider: emergence vs intent
  • davegray: @ruthmalan @tetradian @nickmalik I think this may be one of those times when words get in the way of meaning
  • ruthmalan: @davegray [ @tetradian @nickmalik ]  🙂  or the lack of words? Can strategy, like meaning, be emergent? Or is it strictly intentional?
  • davegray: @ruthmalan @tetradian @nickmalik strategy can intentionally create opportunities 4 emergence. Also unintentionally, but that’s not strategy // IMO a good strategy in uncertain environment preserves optionality & is ready to pivot quickly
  • nickmalik: @tetradian two places where “design thinking” is used: developing strategy and implementing it. Which are we discussing?
  • tetradian: @nickmalik design-thinking is used in both strategy and implementation; most of design-doing happens only in execution 🙂
  • johnt: @davegray @tetradian From strategic planning to purpose and resilience http://bit.ly/vfJxaj >strong agree #entarch
  • ArtBourbon: @davegray  @ruthmalan @tetradian @nickmalik looks like I missed a good discussion (strategy, intent, emergence etc)
  • davegray: @mikerollings @tetradian I forget who said this: luck is when opportunity meets preparedness
  • tetradian: @davegray @mikerollings “who said: luck is when opportunity meets preparedness” – Pasteur: see ch.3 and appdx in ‘The Art of Scientific Investigation’ http://bit.ly/7U1vgy
  • mikerollings: @davegray @tetradian #nickmalik “Luck, Serendipity, and the Contextual Strategist” #entarch http://bit.ly/utJWnT >strong agree
  • davegray: @mikerollings @tetradian I think context is part of it. Also important is a set of values/principles that guide decisions within the context
  • tetradian: RT @davegray: @mikerollings “Also important is a set of values/principles that guide decisions within the context” >v.strong agree #entarch
  • ruthmalan: @tetradian – thanks for ptr to The Art of Scientific Investigation – glad you shared it with Dave/Mike and we who follow y’all 🙂
  • tetradian: @ruthmalan – glad you liked ‘Art of Scientific Investigation’ – one of my all-time favorite books! 🙂 (eg. see end-summary chap. on Reason)
  • ruthmalan: @tetradian There I was enjoying the Serendipity of the chapter on Chance 🙂 Indeed, that end-chp summary on Reason is wonderful! Thx again!
  • mikerollings: @davegray @tetradian values & principles are part of context, and there is no notion of the context setters & the consumer. We all do it.
  • davegray: @mikerollings now you have lost me. Is there anything that isn’t part of the context? @tetradian
  • mikerollings: @davegray Context=shared undrstndng within which we co-create. So there is context & doing. Some doing creates context w/ others @tetradian
  • davegray: @mikerollings so our decisions & actions should be guided by shared understanding. Am I missing something important? @tetradian

As can be seen from the links above, the conversation triggered at least two excellent additional posts:

My own view? I’d say they’re somewhat different: closely related, but somewhat orthogonal to each other. Strategy ‘is’ design in the sense of design-as-intent, but not in the more common sense of design-for-implementation. In that latter sense, strategy is an input into the design-process. Yet in a way strategy can also be in part an output from the design-process – especially when eliciting strategy for detail-layer changes. So yeah, it’s kinda complicated… 🙂

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