Design Thinking Lets Designers Insert Themselves as a Strategic Partner, Berkessel Said at NJ Connect

Photo: Polymash's Juergen Berkessel with Domenick Cilea Photo Credit: Julie O'Hara

Polymash’s Juergen Berkessel with Domenick Cilea | Julie O'Hara

Design thinking for business was the topic of the 2015 kickoff NJ Connect meetup event, on February 4 in Red Bank.

Juergen Berkessel, cofounder and CIO of Polymash(Atlantic Highlands) a creative agency specializing in design, strategy and development, provided an in-depth walk-through of his “Design Thinking for Business” methodology.

Domenick Cilea, NJ Connect meetup co-organizer and president of Springboard Public Relations (Marlboro), opened the meeting with a question to the crowd, “What do you think ‘design thinking for business’ means?”

As it turns out, the group of UX designers and strategy and marketing professionals weren’t exactly sure. Cilea quoted from Tim Brown, design thinking expert and president of IDEO, saying “the goal of design thinking is matching people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and viable as a business strategy.”

One of the main themes of Berkesser’s design thinking methodology is “ideation,” and Berkessel has developed a workshop that shows participants how to easily handle the key and complex questions: “who, what, why, and how.”

Berkessel told a story about one of his first clients, based in Australia, who sought a social media strategy. He pitched his social strategy and the client responded, “Do me up one of these.” Was this a win? Berkessel was not so sure. He wondered how his strategy was going to support his client’s content, digital and other tactical marketing activities.

That’s when Berkessel realized that he had missed the opportunity to embed himself into the client’s business strategy, which was where the real opportunities lay. He told the group that they cannot develop an effective social-media, content or any other kind of strategy without taking a holistic approach.

He noted that the most important step in design thinking — defining the “value proposition” —  is often skipped or too quickly assumed. So he developed his Digital Strategy Resource Guide (downloadable from the Polymash website), which includes strategies and tools for businesses. He urges entrepreneurs to begin by participating in a Polymash “value proposition design” workshop, in order to gain clarity and focus in their approaches to all digital strategies.

Design Thinking for Business addresses the various aspects of strategy development: Audience (through value proposition design), Experience (through “user experience design”), Content (by applying a content development and channeling plan), Web Design (applying IA, wire framing, Agile development and SEO), Marketing (with a lead generation and engagement program), and Analytics (using data to measure activity and improve initiatives). The sum of these elements of design thinking is a digital strategy roadmap.

Tackling this roadmap can be a daunting task for startups and even for large companies, but the workshop helps companies develop a very logical plan for connecting campaigns and programs and for measuring outcomes.

Robyn Stratton, cofounder and CEO of Polymash, added that her team developed this program because she found that businesses were not using integrated holistic approaches.

[Author’s note: Berkessel and Stratton’s insights and methodology were well received by the NJConnect meetup audience.  I derived great value for my own approach as a digital marketing strategist. Berkessel and Stratton gave a free workshop template to everyone there, and I’ve already incorporated it into several projects that I am working on.

I have learned the value of a holistic approach in the same way that most of us recognize value in anything: by not having it at first. It’s a top-down approach. As a marketer, I know that I need to get buy-in from the top to understand what a company’s digital marketing strategy is, and how their business goals and overall value proposition could generate many more propositions that could enable the definition of a successful strategy. ]

With a strategic-marketing and business-development background in telecom, mobile and SaaS, O’Hara has created demand and enabled growth through her customer and business solutions for large telecom and mobile companies. Follow her on Twitter @Julieohara.

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