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Design / Thinking Strategies

Thinking Strategies

Strategic Design

Strategic design is the deliberate application of tools and techniques to the envisioning and implementation of customer-facing business initiatives. It aligns the design of products for customer needs with the strategic goals of the company. As an emergent business discipline, with strong roots in user research and participatory design, the practice of Strategic Design features multi-disciplinary project teams that blend creative and critical thinking techniques and data analysis to co-create, test and launch resilient solutions to “big picture” or systemic challenges.

As a naturally integrative way of thinking, design works well in today’s complex business environment, especially on problems that are ill defined and owned by many.  The Strategic Design framework developed by the Sauder d.studio is particularly effective for creating both opportunities and clarity when the way forward is not obvious or when the system is simply stuck.  Strategic Design differs from many other approaches, as it applies co-creative principles that engage all stakeholders throughout the problem-solving journey, to arrive at innovative and often unexpected solutions.

Design processes have historically been used in a variety of industries to produce tangible things, such as products or services.  Strategic Design draws on established methodologies from these traditional design practices, and combines them with creative and analytical approaches from other disciplines, including commerce.  The result is a user-driven, generative process that turns inquiry to action.

Source:  Sauder d.studio web site


Critical thinking

"Critical thinking may be defined as the art of continuous questioning and analysis of two sides of an argument, problem, or context. Furthermore, the ability to think critically requires human beings to embrace a world free of orthodox views and/or sectarian, social norms, in a continuous effort to search for the essence of truth and expand the knowledge base. Critical thinking is an imperative for a cohesive social order as well as the development of an interdependent global focus."

Source: Encyclopedia of the Social and Cultural Foundations of Education, Sage, 2009


Creative Thinking

“Creative thinking is defined as the ability to think of original, diverse and elaborate ideas through a process of exploring multiple avenues of actions or thoughts.It involves two distinct kinds of thinking: divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking involves generating lots of options or ideas, while Convergent thinking involves judging the options and making decisions. The secret to creative thinking is to separate your divergent thinking from your convergent thinking and to generate lots and lots of options before considering judging them.”

Source: Alex Osborn, author of Applied Imagination (1953).


Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking is concerned with how things interact with one another. It is a way of thinking and seeing the “big picture” through overarching structures, patterns and cycles. This broad view can help identify and locate the real causes of issues in organizations and where to focus on addressing them. 

Source: Carter McNamara, Systems Thinking, Systems Tools and Chaos Theory


Design Thinking

According to Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, design thinking is "the productive combination of the inductive and deductive logic of analytical thinking with the abductive logic of intuitive thinking that enables the movement forward of knowledge from Mystery to Heuristic or Heuristic to Algorithm. It's a process of innovation that analytical thinking doesn't generate and intuitive thinking can't deliver with enough consistency to be economically viable."


Integrative Thinking
Integrative thinking involves studying existing business models which may be in opposition, and coming up with a new model that transcends existing ones.

Source: Roger Martin explores three big ideas: customer capitalism, integrative thinking and design thinking, Strategy & Leadership, 2011, 39:4