Looking for a way to reframe the value of design? This article on design as a de-risk could be just what you need.
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Issue 023

Design as a tool for reducing business risk.

Looking for a new way to reframe the business value of design? Expressing design as a way of de-risking business ideas could be the breakthrough you need.
I was recently part of a digital vision workshop with a client. It was a productive day, with the team coalescing around some ambitious company goals.

The group agreed that design would be crucial to the vision's delivery. But when we tried to imagine getting buy-in for the kind of design work that would deliver on the vision's promises, common cultural blockers kept cropping up.

The biggest hurdle to jump was a perception of design within this traditional finance organisation: design is expensive.

Design was seen as cost-generating. Cost in the shape of time and money.

Workshops, deliverables, creative thinking time and ambitious ideas that could be expensive to roll out.

We needed to reframe design to resonate with a traditional, cost-conscious finance organisation obsessed with risk.

How could we mitigate the concerns of a company with this culturally engrained view of design's role in business?

Our breakthrough: re-framing design as a way to mitigate business risk.
Article: Design is De-Risk by Peter Cuijpers

When it comes to explaining this powerful reframing of our discipline's value, I love the article 'Design is De-risk' by Peter Cuijpers.

In it, Peter frames the challenge posed by design's perception as a business cost centre, rather than a money or time saver.
I hear a lot of talk(s) about design and I talk a lot about design myself. Usually I end up saying something along the lines of: to (use) design is to de-risk. One of the things easily overlooked is the value of de-risking when using design. What catches the eye is usually the creativity, the workshops, concepts and prototypes. But maybe the true value of design is in what you don't do..

Peter Cuijpers,
Strategic Designer and Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) working for the Dutch Railways.
This was familiar territory for the group I was working with. If this sounds like a challenge you're facing, Peter does a great job of outlining the ways to overcome this by visualising the process of using design to de-risk work.

Peter's also introduces a helpful visual that can help with this reframing: The Cone of Uncertainty.

This neat visualisation shows typical levels of risk throughout a software development project, where risk should reduce as we move from project inception to mature delivery. There's a clear riskiness sweet spot in the crossover from product discovery to shipping early ideas.

This business risk sweet-spot is one design is perfectly placed to exploit.

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