Strategic Design for Collective Intelligence

Strategic Design for Collective intelligence

As a Strategic Designer, I have the duty of facilitating collective intelligence. Leaders need to make decisions. Organizations want to innovate their production process. Social impact movements organize to address social innovation. Strategic Design for Collective Intelligence helps us to be more than the sum of our parts.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster

What is Collective Intelligence?

Collective Intelligence is the emergent phenomenon created by people collaborating. They co-design possible solutions to the complex problem they discover through cooperation. Co-creation leads to more inclusive and systemic solutions that are more robust.

What is a Strategic Designer?

A Strategic Designer is a Systems Thinker and a Facilitator. A Designer and a Communicator. A Strategic Designer is a problem-setter and a problem-solver. They define the context of a problem before ideating possible solution scenarios.

Facilitators build upon the knowledge of a group of people. They organize collective thoughts through structured activities.  Collective Intelligence Facilitators make collaboration tools out of constraints. Time, resources, requirements, needs and wants become part of the context to work with.

Strategic Designers need to know well the tools of the Design Researchers. They map Stakeholders and their Experience Journey through the realms of the context.
A Strategic Designer makes the systems visible to the eye of participants.  Strategic Designers embody the principles of inclusive, compassionate and respectful dialogue.

The strategic aspect of design

Strategic Designers explore knowledge to make things clearer towards reaching refined goals.
Among the many activities, Strategic Designers work to

  • Knowing the context
  • Knowing needs, wants and desires
  • Extracting knowledge from stakeholders: internal and external.
  • Knowing how to provide value
  • Mitigate unintended consequences

VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) is the natural environment where a Strategic Designer thrives. They have to trust the Design Process more than their intuition. They need the persistence to sustain the discomfort of the unknown. Their strength is in trusting the processes of research, envisioning, prototyping, testing, and iteration.

Strategic Design leads to more rational decisions made

A designer should not impose their opinions nor their decisions. A designer should help collaboration among leaders, including all stakeholders. A collaborative decision is more rational and more accepted by the participant in the co-design process.

Strategic Design makes you see for the first time

A Strategic Designer maps processes and flows, components and their interactions. A System Map shows the actual purpose of a system: that is what the system does, not what you intend it to do.

When a leader of a large organization sees for the first time the entire production process, including every branch, from every department, and every possible action for all possible scenarios, they see their organization for the first time.

Trying to imagine what they would think at that time: “Where was I all this time?” “How all of this could happen?”, “What is my real role in my organization?”.

A Strategic Designer facilitates success

A designer facilitates success through context-setting, inclusive and structured acquisition of knowledge, by leading a collaborative process where decision-makers create the best solution for their problems.

How did I become a Strategic Designer?

I grew into the role of a Strategic Designer through many professional and educational opportunities. I moved to the “why” part of the job without anybody to ask for it. Then, people started to ask me less about the “how” part and more of the “why”. This is how I moved from “How to do things” to “Why should we do this?” and “What should we do to get what we want and need?

It is a demanding role but exciting. It is a leading role but humbling. The more I work as a Strategic Designer, the more I think that every leader should embrace Strategic Design to build better products, better services, better solutions, and a better world.

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