Applying strategic design as a holistic approach to investigate and address real world challenges

Busayawan Lam

Abstract


This paper discusses how design can be used strategically to provide a holistic approach for investigating and providing viable solutions for different types of real world problems, which range from helping organizations fulfil their goals right through to addressing social and environmental issues. Moreover, it will be described how design has evolved to become more proactive and strategic. The paper is based around three case studies that explore how design was employed strategically to tackle wicked problems in different contexts. In all cases, the problematic situations will be explained, followed by the investigation processes and proposed solutions. The three case studies will be critically analyzed and compared to extract common practices. The results confirm that design can be used strategically to address wicked problems. From the start, design techniques can be used to visualize and map out relationships of all key issues, which help turn “ill-defined” problems into well-focused questions. Design research also provides a useful framework for investigating problems, gaining insights, analyzing findings and integrating all key issues. Besides, the design thinking and process could be used to create viable solutions that not only address the main problems, but also take other issues into consideration, which make the outcomes more holistic.

Keywords: strategic design, design thinking, problem solving process.


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