Learn about design strategy sessions and facilitation in this guide
Design Strategy Workshops are gaining attention as an effective way to align stakeholders, designers, and business executives around a unified product, service, or program vision. In this blog post, we will explain what a design strategy workshop is, what are the typical elements of a successful one, and how it differs from other types of workshops. We will also share some tips and best practices for running a design strategy workshop, whether in-person or virtually. Finally, we will highlight the features and benefits of this kind of workshop, and why you should consider hiring a professional firm to design and facilitate it for you. Let’s get started!
What is a Design Strategy Workshop?
A design strategy workshop is a structured process that helps you define the scope, goals, and direction of your project. It is based on the principles of design thinking, which is a human-centered approach to innovation solving problems creatively. This collaborative session focuses on crafting a cohesive design strategy, informed by insights, to guide product or service development.
A design strategy workshop usually involves the following steps:
- Empathize: You start by understanding the needs, pains, and desires of your users. You can use methods such as interviews, surveys, personas, journey maps, etc. to gain insights into their behaviors, motivations, and emotions.
- Define: Synthesize your findings and articulate the main problem or opportunity that you want to address. You can use methods such as problem statements, value propositions, how might we questions, etc. to frame your challenge in a clear and actionable way.
- Ideate: Generate as many ideas as possible to solve your problem or seize your opportunity. You can use methods such as brainstorming, sketching, prototyping, etc. to explore different concepts and solutions.
- Test: Validate your ideas with your users and stakeholders. You can use methods such as feedback sessions, usability testing, experiments, etc. to test your assumptions and learn from your failures and successes.
- Plan: You then prioritize your ideas and create a roadmap for your project. You can use methods such as dot voting, impact/effort matrix, MoSCoW method, etc. to decide what to do next and how to do it.
A design strategy workshop can have different formats and durations depending on the complexity and scope of your project. It can range from a few hours to a few days or even weeks. It can also involve different participants such as internal team members, external partners, customers, users, experts, etc.
What are the Elements of a Successful Design Strategy Workshop?
A design strategy workshop is more than just a series of activities. It requires careful planning and facilitation to ensure that it achieves its objectives and delivers value. Here are some of the key elements that make a design strategy workshop successful:
- A clear purpose: Have a clear understanding of why you are running the workshop, what you want to achieve, and what are the expected outcomes. You should communicate this purpose to all the participants before the workshop and remind them throughout the session.
- A diverse team: A diverse team of participants can bring different perspectives, skills, and experiences to the table. You should invite people who are directly involved in or affected by the project, as well as people who can offer fresh insights or challenge assumptions.
- A conducive environment: Choose a comfortable and spacious venue that has enough equipment and materials for the activities. You should also create a positive and safe atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions.
- A flexible agenda: Be prepared to adapt and improvise depending on the needs and dynamics of the group. Don’t feel like you must stick to a rigid plan or force an outcome that does not match the reality or expectations of the participants. The goal is to arrive at the best strategy, even if it deviates from initial assumptions.
- A skilled facilitator: A skilled facilitator can guide the group through the process and ensure everyone is engaged and productive. The facilitator should be able to set the tone, ask the right questions, stimulate discussions, manage conflicts, capture insights, and summarize results.
What Could a Design Strategy Workshop Look Like?
Here is an example structure of what a design strategy workshop could look like for your organization. This hands-on, interactive workshop is designed to bring cross-disciplinary teams together to collaborate and shape the design strategy of an upcoming project or improve an existing one.
- A documented design strategy
- Prioritized design and business goals
- A roadmap for design and development
- Greater team alignment and understanding of the project
- Stakeholder Interviews: Gathering initial insights from key people involved.
- Market Research Review: Understanding the competitive landscape.
- User Personas: Creating archetypes of your users.
- Journey Mapping: Visualizing the user experience.
- Strategy Formulation: Crafting the design strategy.
- Action Plan: Developing a roadmap for implementation.
How Does a Design Strategy Workshop Differ from Other Types of Workshops?
A design strategy workshop is not the same as a design thinking workshop or an innovation workshop. Here are some of the main differences:
- A design thinking workshop is a general term that refers to any workshop that uses design thinking as a framework or methodology. A design strategy workshop is a specific type of design thinking workshop that focuses on defining the problem and creating a vision for the project.
- An innovation workshop is a general term that refers to any workshop that aims to generate new ideas or solutions for a problem or opportunity. It aims to spark new ideas and solutions, rather than develop a focused strategy. Meanwhile, a design strategy workshop is a specific type of innovation workshop that also involves empathizing with users, testing ideas, and planning the next steps.
What are the Features and Benefits of a Design Strategy Workshop?
A design strategy workshop has many features and benefits that make it a valuable tool for any project. Here are some of them:
- It helps you understand your users: A design strategy workshop helps you empathize with your users and gain insights into their needs, pains, and desires. This helps you create solutions that are relevant, useful, and desirable for them.
- It helps you define your problem: A design strategy workshop helps you synthesize your findings and articulate your problem or opportunity in a clear and actionable way. This helps you focus on the most important and meaningful aspects of your project.
- It helps you generate ideas: A design strategy workshop helps you generate as many ideas as possible to solve your problem or seize your opportunity. This helps you explore different possibilities and discover new opportunities.
- It helps you validate your ideas: A design strategy workshop helps you validate your ideas with your users and stakeholders. This helps you test your assumptions and learn from your failures and successes.
- It helps you plan your project: A design strategy workshop helps you prioritize your ideas and create a roadmap for your project. This helps you decide what to do next and how to do it.
Why Should You Hire a Professional Firm to Run a Design Strategy Workshop?
Running a design strategy workshop is not easy. It requires a lot of preparation, facilitation, and follow-up. It also requires a lot of expertise, experience, and creativity. That’s why hiring Innovation Training can make a big difference for your project. Here are some of the reasons why you should hire us to run a design strategy workshop for you:
- Skills: We have the skills to design and facilitate a design strategy workshop that meets your needs and expectations. We know how to ask the right questions, stimulate discussions, manage conflicts, capture insights, summarize results, etc.
- Experience: We’ve run design strategy workshops for different types of projects, clients, and industries. We know what works and what doesn’t, what to avoid and what to emphasize, what to expect and what to prepare for.
- Creativity: We have the creativity to generate ideas and solutions that are original, innovative, and feasible. We know how to use different methods and tools to spark creativity and collaboration among the participants.
- Resources: We have the resources to provide you with everything you need for a successful design strategy workshop. We have access to comfortable and spacious venues, equipment and materials, experts and partners, etc.
Contact Us to Learn More about Design Strategy Workshops
A Design Strategy Workshop can be a crucial asset for organizations aiming to successfully launch or revamp a product or service. While capable of being conducted in-house, many organizations find great value in outsourcing the workshop facilitation to specialized firms, capable of providing an external perspective and expert guidance, either in-person or virtually.
If you are interested in running a design strategy workshop for your project, please contact us today. We will be happy to discuss your needs and expectations, and provide you with recommendations. We look forward to hearing from you soon!