On Strategic Design – Exploiting Ignorance

Updated: May 17, 2019

The evolution of the impact of design on business innovation is fascinating. It started with industrial design (1960), evolved into human centred design (1990-2000), and is now becoming a way to think about achieving sustainable growth.


Why is design gaining momentum into the business world?

A short digression here: Strategic thinking was born after the second world war because of an increasing level of competition in many industries. Since then, rationality has become the ‘best’ way to achieve and maintain the sustainable competitive advantage of organisations.

Though the 80 and 90’s something has shifted.

After 40 years of pursuing rational thinking, management came to realise the need to complement rationality with creativity. Rational thinking alone did no longer provide companies with a sustainable advantage.

knowledge management is the essence of incremental innovation, but it falls short when companies look for new growth opportunities.


Exploiting Ignorance is an expression to articulate the inherent and most overlooked advantage in not knowing something - freeing us from the burden of rational and incremental innovation.

The challenge we face today in management is to interface the rationality of strategic thinking with the creativity of design thinking.

Strategic design doesn’t aim at creating a better or smarter strategy for organisations, but it focuses on the birth of a new business strategy instead.

Unlocking creative thinking in management.



Differently from strategic thinking, creative thinking, starts by forgetting most of what we know about a subject.

Data is the starting point for analysis, in the form of research, studies, etc. the starting point for creative thinking is the lack of any relevant data - an empty canvas.

Therefore, we not only need to get confident with not knowing something, but we need to exploit the advantage of not knowing.

It’s only by allowing ourselves as managers to be creative (to forget about what our organisation has been doing for the last 10 to 20 years) that we will discover new ways to look at our customers and their set of needs which will become the starting point for an innovation opportunity.



Grab your spot for the live Webinar on Tuesday the 2nd of October on Exploiting Ignorance.

Let’s start a conversation about this, type your thoughts and questions in the comment section below and we will explore those during the webinar.

I’ll see you there.

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STEFANO MESSORI - DESIGN STRATEGIST - REMOTE TRAINER & FACILITATOR - DUBLIN (IRELAND)

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