2 Ways to Link Strategy and Creativity

Strategy and Creativity in Design“Make it pretty.”

When you hear those three words, it pretty much lets you know that the client sees the designer’s role as solely aesthetic and not about strategy. But strategic designers know that creativity and strategy are intertwined.

In the late 1950s, Charles Eames said, “The recognition and understanding of the need was the primary condition of the creative act. When people feel they have to express themselves for originality for its own sake that tends not to be creativity. Only when you get into the problem and the problem becomes clear, can creativity take over.”

As Eames suggests, design creativity is not an artistic indulgence but a discipline, one that can help define business problems and articulate strategic directions. Here are two ways designers can use creativity and strategy to develop more meaningful design solutions:


Let the client’s strategy drive creativity: Design creativity is not the result of designers operating in isolation and throwing concepts over the wall to the client. Effective creativity is informed by business goals and audience perceptions. Ask about the clients business and their competitive environment, and talk with their customers to get a deeper understanding of their needs. Designers that can prepare their mind prior to ideation are more likely to come up with meaningful solutions.

Use creative thinking to help drive strategy: Many business leaders are looking to design and creativity as a way to help them find the next big thing and provide a competitive advantage. Designers are now being recognized for their unique set of creative talents – talents that their analytical business counterparts do not have. To quote Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management,  “Businesspeople don’t just need to understand designers better — they need to become designers.” Designers can use creative problem solving tools like brainstorming, drawing, word games and projective exercises to help clients look beyond obvious solutions.


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