Designers often ask this question. Sometimes I think the question arises from a genuine desire to be doing something else which is more strategic in nature, and sometimes I think what is being asked is, how can I convince or influence others to do things my way?
The answer might be the same or it might not. I’ve started to keep track of the answers I hear to shed some light here.
- Change your title, brand identity, clothing, etc. in order to change perceptions of what you offer.
- Charge more money so that only the people who have real strategic influence can afford you.
- Bootstrap your way into different work.
- Be strategic. In Porter’s definition, strategic is long-term planning. Avail yourself of strategic tools both simple (e.g. roadmaps) and complex (futures analysis and design).
- Illustrate the strategic implications of seemingly tactical efforts. If strategic = long-term, show the long-term effects.
- Be more thoughtful, for example go beyond providing expertise to providing decision-making frameworks.
- Educate yourself. Strategy may be harder than finance, operations, and other business topics. Take the time to learn what strategists really do.
- Don’t be strategic in the usual sense. Instead, elevate your craft and expand its boundaries. See the influence and flexibility of a breakout designer like Joshua Davis.
What else have you heard?