Combining Strategic Thinking and Design Thinking

by Strategy

How to identify the best options for adapting your business model and transform your organization

The current situation is causing unprecedented challenges for many organizations. With economic pressure at all levels, it is important to assess the options available and identify the actions to be implemented that can maximize the positive impacts in order to adapt your business model.

I particularly like the approach put forward by Roger L. Martin. Combining strategic thinking and design thinking, he proposes to identify and explore the possible options through a hypothesis validation process to select a solution with a better probability of success.

Two key questions are essential:

  1. How might we? 
  2. What would have to be true?

Identify the possibilities – How might we?

Depending on the problem associated with the drop in economic activity caused by Covid-19, the question that arises is, therefore: How is it possible to ensure the continuity of operations, of the income, or even to reinvent the organization?

From this question, several options or possibilities can be stated. Obviously, each organization will have its series of potential actions. 

Note that it is also possible to segment the main question by exploring the different components of the business model. Is it possible to serve our customers differently? Is it possible to serve new customers? Can we use our competencies differently? Etc.

The approach makes it possible to explore different alternatives. By improving the understanding of the components of the alternatives, it is possible to develop new possibilities. The validation of options and conditions for success will increase the probability of success.

Identifying the conditions for success and the unknowns

For each of the options under study, it is necessary to assess the conditions for success, the elements known to be true, and above all, the elements that are unknown. For the latter, it is essential to deepen the information in order to make a judgment on the possibility of implementing a winning solution.

Thus, for these unknown elements, we will develop tests in order to validate the conditions of the success of the hypotheses. These tests can be simple (such as non-exhaustive financial validations) or be more sophisticated. In all cases, these tests aim to validate the desirability for the customers, the technical feasibility, or the economic viability of the scenario.

Explore to improve your options

It is important to pay attention to exploring the scenarios. The approach aims to generate options and to validate the hypotheses allowing a successful implementation. By evaluating the conditions for success in terms of desirability, feasibility, and viability, it is possible to better appreciate the options on the table and to be able to select a course of action with more confidence.

Extend the exercise – include the time factor

This exercise can take into account the time factor and the associated impacts. It is then possible to generate options to be implemented according to certain parameters to be monitored. Depending on the additional risk factors, actions can be developed and validated.

To Do

  • Have you evaluated the potential options for adapting your business model?
  • Which variables are known and which are less well controlled?
  • How did you increase your level of confidence in the information on hand?
  • Can you evaluate the criteria that would indicate a change in strategy?


Combining Strategy and Innovation

Combining Strategy and Innovation

Capturing the essence of our customers’ (or prospects’) needs and jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) enables us to develop new innovation opportunities. Combined with the transformation of our business models, this allows us to have maximum impact on value creation and the development of a competitive advantage.