Tita Talks Organization Development

Managing change through the use of design in strategic planning and execution

/ 12:02 AM October 18, 2015

ONCE again, it is strategic planning season. Before responding to facilitation requests I started to update myself on the latest in strategic thinking. Aside from looking at the economic forecasts and possible impact of the China downturn to the Philippine economy, I noted a very interesting development in the Harvard Business Review, the magazine and hard copy. Yes, I still like the feel of the paper rather than downloading the article on line.

Design centric planning


The trend in line with innovation is creating a ” design centric “culture, that helps  impart a set of principles to all people in an organization who help bring ideas to life.  Design thinking, was described as “an essential tool for simplifying and humanizing design of strategy and change.”
STEP ED Framework

It reminded me of my favorite strategic planning framework, courtesy of our partner Enterprise Development Group based in Palo Alto, the STEP and Enterprise Development Models. It was an earlier version of design thinking I noted, as a strategy group designs strategy maps to mark   the enterprise journey starting from the current enterprise urgencies and moving towards the future challenges. It then proceeds to identify the bridging business and organization development strategies that would close the gap.


Planning starts with the external environment, identifying the threats and opportunities from the external factors that impact or influence the enterprise from outside.  Do we start planning looking at the present or gazing at the future? If an enterprise is doing well, we typically start with the future, to allow for that “stretch” that can shift paradigms and allow for breakthrough future leaps. However if the present is unsettled & plagued with current day urgencies or “whirlwinds” as an author puts it, then begin with the future. After addressing or resolving the urgencies, then the group can be mentally prepared to face the future.
Process of alignment

Then STEP ED looks at the alignment of tasks, structure, people and internal environment to the external environment. It is a model that allows one to view the “problems” and dysfunctions of the present but also the “challenges” of the future. For indeed strategic thinking is about “identifying and addressing the urgencies” of the present but at the same time addressing building and creating part of the future today.

Focus on users experience

What makes design thinking interesting is the “focus on users experiences” specially the emotional ones. It is also an approach to identifying and bringing in innovation in an enterprise. For user experiences can highlight and heighten what the customer values. From initial ideas through marking the customer touch points can indeed encourage new ways of viewing situations that resonate with the customer.
Facing challenges

So the question in my mind is how to heighten the design thinking in the STEP ED model. The key principles underlie most of the emerging trends in creative design as “models are used to examine problems and challenges” and “prototypes are used to explore potential solutions”.  The design thinking enable greater co-ownership and co-development of ideas. It allows the strategy team to push beyond standard and historic solutions to “accept more ambiguity, embrace risk, reset expectations, humanize technology and develop more emotionally resonant products and services”.

What makes STEP ED attractive is how it lends itself to execution. One can easy link the balanced scorecard to develop targets and goals in the areas of Finance, Customer, Process and People.

STEP ED recognizes successful execution through the coalition of leadership, stakeholder and performance support. Leadership is often tested in terms of its level of commitment to the enterprise plan. The stakeholders, primarily employees have to stake responsibility for implementation. Then performance support, meaning the staff groups in the organization in partnership with the external consultant (if necessary) provides the competencies to enable implementation.
Design key principles


What are the other key principles of strategic planning using design thinking? Aside from creating models to examine problems and challenges and using prototypes to explore possible solutions it also faces squarely the challenges of change. These are accepting more ambiguity and embracing risks, resetting expectations and keeping the organization’s focus on humanizing technology and developing emotionally resonant products and services.

The stages for Designing for Action involves the following: setting the stage through a launch, designing the model, developing the final design, piloting and implementation and continuous improvement.

Let us continuously improve the way we make engagement happen through strategic planning and managing change.

(Tita Datu Puangco is the CEO and President of Ancilla Enterprise Development Consulting, a major training and organization development company in the Philippines with an Asian reach. It specializes in enterprise transformation, executive coaching, corporate leadership and functional training, human resource systems, corporate academies, learning events and management of business training centers.  Visit Tita’s Blog at http://titatalkstraining.blogspot.com. For additional information please email author at [email protected] or at [email protected])

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