The Design School

21 01 2010

The Design School has some distinct factors that mainly build off the SWOT model, which seeks to create a “fit” between a company’s internal capabilities and the possibilities available externally to choose the best strategy.

  • Starting with the external capabilities of the Design School model, the threats and opportunities are assessed.  It is important to know the possibilities of the competition to exceed their strengths to create a greater competitive advantage.  The key factors are then looked at and assessed to discover the best action to capitalize.
  • Under the internal factors, the strengths and weaknesses of the organization are looked at.  The employees are an integral part of carrying out the strategy and it is beneficial to use their strengths effectively.  The distinctive competencies are assessed to distinguish the different alternatives available.   
  • At this point, the internal and external evaluations are combined together to create various strategy options with social responsibility and managerial values kept in mind for creating the right strategy for the company.  After various alternative strategies have been established, they are evaluated under a few key questions developed by Richard Rumelt from the Harvard General Management. These  four evaluation questions are based on consistency of the goals, consonance with critical changes, advantage in the long-run, and feasibility with scarce resources.   The best strategy is chosen after evaluating all aspects of the decision with the short-term and long-term benefits or disadvantages.
  • Lastly, the chosen strategy is implemented.  Keeping the evaluation and choosing of a strategy separate from the implementation is a key in the Design School.  This model puts a key emphasis on keeping the thinking and formation of a strategy separate from the actual action of implementation.

There are a few other key premises of this model.  The Design School says that there should be only one strategist.  This person is typically the CEO or General Manager of the company.  Due to this, the model also says that the strategy should be kept simple.  With one person as the strategist, the strategy needs to be written so that everyone in the company can understand the strategy.  However, the strategist needs to look at all aspects of the organization, which can sometime be overlooked in this model.  The strategy should be also be specific.  These “requirements” tie together to ensure that everyone can know and understand what is happening even though one person is creating the strategy.  The key criticism of the model is that simplicity may seem positive to some, but to many critics, the simplicity of this model can be seen as leaving out many key factors needed to create an effect strategy.

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