Enterprise Design Framework

Method / Strategy

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Enterprise Design Framework
Milan, Member, Partner, France

A strategic design approach to navigate the intermingled concerns when designing for complex enterprise ecosystems.

The Enterprise Design Framework represents 20 interrelated aspects on five layers, to align the overarching strategic efforts of Branding, Enterprise Architecture and Experience Design on a common course. The framework aims to give designers, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders a model and a comprehensive vocabulary to tackle complex challenges, and explains how to navigate key concerns and bridge diverging views. Designed to help practitioners shape tomorrow's enterprises, it connects design work on aspects as diverse as services, interactions, operational processes and business models, down to tangible outcomes such as digital apps or physical buildings. The framework is portrayed in the book Intersection as toolkit to be used in a Strategic Design approach.
What is an enterprise?
The idea of the enterprise as subject to design work is following a basic premise: that the key challenges companies and other organizations face are best tackled by addressing them in a holistic and coherent fashion. In this context, an enterprise can be seen as a purposeful endeavor, an idea shared by the various people involved, and a set of identities, architectures and experiences to be designed.
Layers of the Enterprise Design Framework
Big Picture
Take a few steps back and look at your enterprise from some distance. What is it all about, why does it exist?
The Big Picture aspects Identity, Architecture and Experience help to understand the enterprise as a whole, being subject to all design activities, and at the same time providing the context for all outcomes. As universal qualities, they apply to any enterprise, even if not consciously addressed. In strategic design work, they enable envisioning potential futures beyond individual stakeholder perspectives.
Explore the elements constituting the relationships and day-to-day interactions in your enterprise. Who is involved, and what is happening where, when and how? The Anatomy aspects Actors, Touchpoints, Services and Content are all about the lose parts, capturing the volatile, interrelated building blocks that form the enterprise as a dynamic ecosystem. As elements of a fractal structure, they recur across all scales and domains. Applied in research and conceptual design work, these aspects provide the basis to collect, map, understand, co-create and rearrange enterprise elements as part of an intended transformation.
Develop an understanding of your enterprise from multiple perspectives, and envision potential target states of a transformation. What is the goal of the strategic design process, what is the intended change? Designing at the enterprise level requires working in a complex space of underdetermined problems. Finding a potential solution involves identifying the right questions, often against original assumptions and ideas. The four framing aspects Business, People, Function and Structure suggest a set of fundamental perspectives to guide conceptual modeling and help deciding on a direction according to strategic choices.
Design Space
Make conceptual design decisions based on insights gained and ideas generated in the course of your exploration. How will your future enterprise be like? (Re)designing your enterprise means actively engaging in change, and achieving coherence across different domains relevant to its endeavors. It involves aligning different viewpoints to unveil opportunities and constraints, ultimately coming to a clear vision of a desired future state. The conceptual aspects Communication, Information, Interaction, Organization, Operation and Technology span the Design Space, and provide a map of potential design decisions to be made in order to make a strategy happen.
Work with talented designers of relevant fields, turning abstract design decisions into actual outcomes. What visible elements will bring your enterprise to life? To deliver on its promise to draw a picture of the future of your enterprise, any strategic design initiative needs to result in visible and tangible outcomes as evidence of an evolved future enterprise. This involves generating ideas going beyond conceptual models, combining the rational with the inspired and turn concepts into actual Signs, Things and Places. A Rendering results in a hybrid system of tangible elements that spans the virtual and physical realm of your enterprise. Think of these elements as the triggers for the larger transformation you are aiming for.
How is this related to Innovation and Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is an approach to achieve innovation, based on the idea that creative inquiry and synthesis -- the essence of a design approach -- can lead to Innovation regardless of the topic, domain, or problem being addressed. The Enterprise Design approach is based on a similar thinking, and attempts to take design practice to a strategic level. It aims to make the choice of outcomes a first conceptual design problem to be tackled, not a predetermined constraint. It promotes a design-led approach to get from game-changing Big Picture decisions down to the Rendering of a transformed enterprise in visible results, using conceptual design decisions as the bridge, and managing the professional disciplines involved.
What has this to do with Enterprise Architecture?
We understand the task of architecting the enterprise as a matter of alignment, communication and abstract thinking, resulting in a plan for change in the way the enterprise is structured and functions. In this view, (information) technology is just one of the many domains to look at, and it's the intersection between these domains that holds most insight. The Enterprise Design framework integrates this broad idea of Enterprise Architecture with a design-led approach to innovation and transformation. It is about getting from strategic choices and conceptual architectures to the design of outcomes visible and usable for people, becoming the tangible evidences of an evolved future enterprise.
How is this related to Business Modeling and Design?
Designing business models and bringing them to life in an enterprise is about creative inquiry and synthesis to iteratively come to disruptive offerings and new operating models. This is the essence of using a design approach on a strategic level, employing visual thinking, co-innovation with market actors, and empathetic comprehension of customer needs to understand and transform enterprise ecosystems. Instead of isolating these efforts in silos like Marketing, Finance and Operations, such an approach strives for innovation in a holistic fashion. The Enterprise Design Framework portrayed in Intersection is designed to provide a map when generating insights and making strategic design decisions that matter to your enterprise, from high-level abstract questions of brand identity and business processes down to their concrete manifestation in products and services, communication channels and touchpoints, and technical components and procedures.

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