Strategy comes in all shapes and sizes. Like UX, there are a plethora of definitions and many big names vying to stake their claim to what strategy is and does. Strategy requires insights, hard choices, decisive planning and action.One size does not fit all, and thankfully Porter, Mintzberg, Rumelt and others' contributions help us to better understand strategy.

Below you'll see examples of how to gather insights, select the best ideas and create a business model for your market.

  • Quick Wins & Strategic Roadmap
  • Idea Selection
  • Business Modelling

A Quick Wins & Strategic Roadmap exercise will identify areas for immediate improvement and set out a solid strategy for your chosen timeframe.

Quick Wins & Strategic Roadmap

An example of where I've done this was at HMRC - the UK's tax authority. The brief was to uncover issues within the service, identify low-hanging fruit for quick wins, and to set forth a five year strategy to move the services ahead adaptively. Along with another designer, I undertook a passive ethnographic study into the information needs of call centre agents and callers, interviewed managers and stakeholders, and collated data to understand patterns and spot potential issues within their services. From these data, a set of immediate improvements were identified, and a five year strategy formulated. Further details are available; please get in touch if you'd like to know more.

Knowing which ideas to pursue can be a stumbling block. Idea selection within design thinking can be done via a set of prototypes - great for understanding how users will react and interact. In addition to UX prototyping, I've used selection quadrants to understand viability and desirability. When used in combination with prototyping, it really helps because teams don't always consider the viability of each idea.

Idea Selection Quadrant

There are myriad other methods - such as the Design Thinking Pyramid from the University of St. Gallen which focusses on creating different types of prototype to find the strongest features; and the Standford dschool flow from empathy.

I've used a number of methods in creating business models - from the more recent Business Model Canvas (great for prototyping), through to more thorough Strategic Rationale models and value models that will provide the cash flow calculations and investment maths (great for executing).

Below is an example of an iStar strategic rationale model. This is also very useful in modelling services and UX. This is often used in conjunction with a strategic dependency model which models the value web.

iSTAR Strategic Rationale model

The purpose of doing this was to understand the relationships between the players. Before one can innovate a business model, one needs to have a good understanding of the existing market ecosystem - and this model provides a means of achieving this. Once understood, the normal business model creation & prototyping steps are undertaken, e.g. using the business model canvas.

A great example of business innovation was when I introduced transaction based pricing for speech recognition services. The insight I'd discovered was that potential clients see speech recognition as a risky venture due to its perceived (lack of) accuracy. Why pay a flat payment for something that may not work? A model was needed that allowed performance to be accounted for, such that the pricing was based on success. Clients understood where the value of the service lay, and we priced our offering accordingly, using a combination of flat rate and transaction based pricing. I created a pricing tool that would allow quotes to be made at very short notice. Another key outcome was that this allowed a service mentality - there was no purchase and maintenance, just usage and a monthly fee. This allowed us to offer cloud services and reduced our cost to serve significantly. The services no longer stagnated, since it was worth updating and tuning them to ensure optimal performnance. This meant a far better user experience as well as benefits for the client.