Design Strategy

Knowing which need to pick from your problem space, identifying it’s characteristics and the approach to take towards solving that problem is what the Design Strategy process provides.


Create action plan

(1) Specific tasks – what will be done and by whom.
(2) Time horizon – when will it be done.
(3) Resource allocation – what specific funds are available for specific activities.




Brainstorming is a technique to systematically generate ideas from a group of people by nurturing free-thinking.

How to do it

  1. Focus on generating a large number of ideas
  2. Active involvement of every participant in the process
  3. Encourage out-of-the-box thinking and creativity
  4. Promote criticism free environment – encourage all types of ideas including wild or seemingly ridiculous ideas while keeping the purpose of the brainstorming in mind
  5. Combine ideas to create newer ideas
  6. Setup a reasonable time limit based on the challenge in hand
  7. Do NOT share ideas until all participants are ready (at the end of the time limit)

It encourages team members to pass their work onto other people in their group.

1. Divide into teams containing an equal number of members, if possible.
2. Ask each of the teams to sit in a circle, so that sheets of paper can be easily passed from one person to the next.
3. Provide each team member with a sheet of paper for recording their ideas.
4. Assign a particular task to all teams
5. Each team member then records as many ideas as possible in a set time eg two minutes.
6. On the appointed signal eg a ringing bell, they pass their sheet to the next person.
7. That person then reads the ideas in front of them, and proceeds to add some more ideas to that sheet, again within two minutes.
This process of passing continues until each team member ends up with their original sheet.
Choose an object or general category of objects which features in the area of study and compile a list of words from A to Z which have some relevance to the object/s.
The B A R Key
A practical step by step strategy for developing innovative and highly unusual products. This type of strategy is often used in today’s high tech product development laboratories to create new products for the market.
Put a given idea or product through BAR key by making it Bigger, Adding something to it, Replacing something.

Combination Key
List the attributes of 2 dissimilar objects (one within your area of study, one outside), then combine the attributes into a single object.

Many important inventions, such as the disposable razor (the concept of loading bullets into a rifle, combined with a normal razor) and the first printing press (the wine press and the coin punch) were created in this way.
SWOT analysis

is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths: characteristics of the business or team that give it an advantage over others in the industry.
Weaknesses: are characteristics that place the firm at a disadvantage relative to others.
Opportunities: external chances to make greater sales or profits in the environment.
Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business.

Affinity diagram

Narrow down ideas from brainstorming

The Affinity Diagram is an interactive data collection method, which enables the identification and sorting of large quantities of ideas within a short time frame. Affinity means likeness or close relationship.  The Affinity is used when a non-judgemental process is required for gathering and categorising ideas.

How to do it

  1. Clearly define and write the topic for the session.
    e.g.: “What Makes Sydney A Great City?”
  2. Create teams.
  3. All team members individually brainstorm ideas relating to the stated
    question or topic. As brainstorming takes place, individuals silently write
    each idea on a sticky note or note card and place it in front of them. Place
    only one idea on each slip of paper/card.
  4. Team members randomly place ideas on the topic flip chart or stick
    them on a smooth surface such as a mirror or a white board
  5. Team members, as a group, through negotiation, place ideas in like
  6. Finally label each category by writing it on the flip chart or placing a

Prerequisites for an Affinity Session

  1. An idea set generated from a Brainstorming Session, typically captured in form of Post-it Notes.
  2. Team should include people who have the necessary knowledge and skills to meld opinions, perspectives and are aware about the problem at hand. Too small or a very large team may not be effective. Rule of thumb suggests between 4 to 6 members in the team.
  3. Invitation that clearly states the purpose of the session.
  4. A facilitator is required to conduct the session.


Internal Benchmarking
It compares (critical-to-business) processes or products across the organization on key critical-to-quality parameters such as turn-around-time or cost.
Functional Benchmarking
It compares similar functions or processes with industry leaders in that area.
Competitive Benchmarking
It focuses on direct competitors in terms of their products, services, processes, and customers. common candidates for benchmarking are customer satisfaction, critical-to-business processes, products, profitability, and value addition per employee. You need to shortlist what is critical to the business success.

The SCAMPER technique uses a set of directed questions which you answer about your probortunity in order to come up with new ideas. The stimulus comes from forcing yourself to answer questions which you would not normally pose. The questions direct you to thinking about a probortunity in ways which typically come up with new ideas.

S: Substitute – Think about substituting part of your product/process for something else. By looking for something to substitute you can often come up with new ideas. Typical questions: What can I substitute to make an improvement? What if I swap this for that and see what happens? How can I substitute the place, time, materials or people?

C: Combine – Think about combining two or more parts of your probortunity to achieve a different product/process or to enhance synergy.
Typical questions: What materials, features, processes, people, products or components can I combine? Where can I build synergy?
A: Adapt – Think about which parts of the product/process could be adapted to remove the probortunity or think how you could change the nature of the product/process.
Typical questions: What part of the product could I change? And in exchange for what?
What if I were to change the characteristics of a component?
M: Modify/ Distort – Think about changing part or all of the current situation, or to distort it in an unusual way. By forcing yourself to come up with new ways of working, you are often prompted into an alternative product/process.
Typical questions: What happens if I warp or exaggerate a feature or component? What will happen if I modify the process in some way?
P: Put to other purposes – Think of how you might be able to put your current solution/product/process to other purposes, or think of what you could reuse from somewhere else in order to solve your own probortunity. You might think of another way of solving your own probortunity or finding another market for your product.
Typical questions: What other market could I use this product in? Who or what else might
be able to use it?
E: Eliminate – Think of what might happen if you eliminated various parts of the product/process/probortunity and consider what you might do in that situation. This often leads you to consider different ways of tackling the probortunity.
Typical questions: What would happen if I removed a component or part of it? How else would I achieve the solution without the normal way of doing it?
R: Rearrange/ Reverse – Think of what you would do if part of your probortunity/product/process worked in reverse or done in a diffe
rent order. What would you do if you had to do it in reverse? You can use this to see your probortunity from different angles and come up with new ideas.
Typical questions: What if I did it the other way round? What if I reverse the order it is done or the way it is used? How would I achieve the opposite effect?
Y Chart
An visual that organises the brainstorming of ideas around three dimensions:
what a particular topic/situation ‘looks like’, ‘sounds like’ and ‘feels like’.
Run it in small groups.