Adam Richardson, a creative strategist at frog design, and a recovering MBA shares some insights from combining his MBA & management consulting background with the creative process at frog:
I think the most powerful insights are generated when we combine both top-down and bottom-up approaches. This is where a business strategy thinker can add value in a creative firm like frog. Starting all projects “backward” by working through a sketch of what we want our end deliverable to be (and what our hypotheses are so far) and explicitly listing the key questions that need to be answered through the work helps ensure that the team is not diverted on paths of synthesis that lead us to lose sight of the larger picture. I use these questions, which become a framework of sorts, to push myself and my teams in our synthesis process, to make sure we are looking at all pieces of a puzzle. This can be done by anybody on the design team, however I think it is a strength that strategists typically have in their toolkit and can use to help design colleagues think in a different and holistic way.
Be sure to read Part 1 as well.
It’s a fascinating synthesis, bringing together business requirements with design tastes. Often times, designers suffer from lack of business thought, much like many tech startups who can’t seem to monetize after they’ve passed the user acquisition phase (I’m looking at you, Twitter!). On the other hand, business people tend to lack the taste needed for great design, and suffer from a serious case of self-design.
In a way, this is becoming the mission in my career – to meld these two fields together. To me, the biggest failure of the pure business profession (finance, marketing, etc.) is that every new idea starts with a spreadsheet, not with user research and understanding the people you’ll influence.