The centrepiece of the Enterprise Design Framework: a map of aspects to look into when tackling ambitious endeavours in a context of complexity.
Designing for impact in an enterprise context means dealing with a much larger playing field than the immediate project, briefing or deliverable. To deliver, we must realign the various moving parts of enterprise ecosystems and push them towards a meaningful, sustainable and achievable future state.
The complex and volatile nature of such environments quickly becomes overwhelming, with brands, processes, stakeholders, culture, content, products, technology or touchpoints being just tiny parts of a much larger puzzle. A key challenge consists of collaboratively exploring potential futures with relevant stakeholders, and integrating relevant competencies and disciplines, such as Enterprise and Business Architecture, Brand Identity and Culture, Service and Experience Design.
The Enterprise Design Aspects support conceptual thinking that bridges gaps, allows diverse teams to develop a common language, and aligns efforts towards a common course. Its twenty interrelated aspects correspond to disciplines and approaches relevant to strategic design work, going from strategic Big Picture views on the enterprise, down to its Rendering in tangible outcomes. On three intermediary layers, conceptual aspects allow us to bridge the gap between high-level thinking and concrete outcomes: explore the Anatomy of the enterprise ecosystem, apply different Frames to define what challenge to tackle, and build a Design Space of constraints, opportunities and ideas.
Appreciating the diversity of concerns and navigating a set of intertwingled aspects, the Enterprise Design Aspects integrate different subfields of design into a coherent whole, making them mere perspectives on the enterprise ecosystem as a shared problem space.
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 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
What do people think and feel about your enterprise, and how does it appear as an image in their minds? This aspect is about the enterprise as a mesh of personalities, impressions, and images in people’s minds, as expressed in symbols, language, and emerging culture. It is subject to Branding work and related initiatives.
How does your enterprise work and function, and how do its many structures support these activities? This aspect is about the enterprise as a purposefully designed system of control structures, managing resources, assets, process flows, and capabilities. It is subject to cross-domain Enterprise Architecture work.
What do people get out of your enterprise, and what role does it want to play in their daily lives? This aspect is about the enterprise as a space of people, environments, and artifacts. Experience Design work strives to redesign and improve these exchanges, starting from human behavior and perception.
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 are all about the loose 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.
Who are the stakeholders taking part in your enterprise, and what are their roles and relationships? This aspect looks at the variety of stakeholders which are related to the enterprise, addressed or impacted by its activities, or involved in their execution. Recognizing stakeholders as enterprise actors and proactively reshaping this system of relationships is subject to Role Management.
When and where do people interact with your enterprise, and in which individual contexts? Whenever a person gets in contact with your enterprise (such as your brand, product, or communication) qualifies as a touchpoint of some sort, with individual journeys reaching from brief encounters to lifelong relationships. Touchpoint Orchestration is about accommodating these journeys.
What are the value propositions the enterprise makes available with its activities and their results? The concept of services is useful for all kinds of value propositions offered to customers and other stakeholders, made available as the result of enterprise activities. The holistic redefinition of services provided is in the focus of a Service Design approach.
What are the content elements that are produced, exchanged and consumed in the enterprise space? The Content aspect is about pieces of information or data, which provide meaning to stakeholders. Consistent content is the basis for all communication, decision-making and collaboration. Creating, managing, and distributing content is subject to Content Strategy work.
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 suggest a set of fundamental perspectives to guide conceptual modeling and help deciding on a direction according to strategic choices.
What business model drives your enterprise, and how will your design work contribute to its success? This aspect is about market offerings and profitability. Working closely with business stakeholders, it allows expressing in business terms the objectives behind a design initiative. Such a Business Design approach focuses on the customer value gained and any changes to drive efficiency.
Who are the people you are designing for, how do they live their lives and what makes them tick? This aspect allows designing in a human and empathetic way, directly working with the people addressed. It is the basis for a Human-Centered Design approach, grounding design decisions in the goals, characteristics, needs, expectations, and individual contexts of real people.
What are the goals and activities your enterprise supports, and what is required to make this happen? The Function aspect captures the purpose the enterprise fulfills and the behaviors it exhibits towards its stakeholders when implementing the outcomes of the design initiative. It supports Requirements Engineering work, eliciting and prioritizing needs together with feasibility experts.
What things are relevant to your enterprise as a design context, and how are they interrelated? This aspect is about exploring the problem domain in concept models, capturing objects and entities and the way they constitute a larger structure. Collaborating closely with domain experts, it enables a Domain-Driven Design approach to transform the structure of the enterprise.
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 forming the Design Space provide a map of potential design decisions to be made in order to get there.
How will people exchange in your enterprise, via what channels and in what particular business contexts? This aspect is about communication processes, in terms of key messages to be conveyed, and your choice of media to support a social exchange between relevant actors. Such Communication Design work is driven by the interplay of medium and message, with digital channels used in a physical reality.
How will information be used in your enterprise, and how can it be organized to represent the overall structure? Designing information is about providing the right things to the right people at the right time, drawing out meaning from an ever more quickly growing mass of data. It is subject to Information Architecture work on information use, organization, and classification across the enterprise.
What interactions and behaviors will be happening in your enterprise, and how to best facilitate them? This aspect focuses on connecting people to functions they are using in the enterprise realm, where virtually no activity is carried out without the help of (digital) technology and tools. Interaction Design is about shaping behaviors define and design useful tools and services.
What are the business processes that make your enterprise run, and how are its capabilities being used? The Operation aspect is about the way the enterprise carries out its activities, both human work and automated procedures. Applied in Business Architecture work, it means identifying business drivers and reshaping flows of work to make your enterprise perform better.
How is your enterprise organized as a group of people, and how should teams work together in the future? This aspect is about designing organizational structures to support the enterprise in its activities. This Organizational Design has to take into account the shape of formal roles, incentives and responsibilities, but also their influence on emerging team culture and habits.
What technical opportunities and possibilities are there, and how to leverage them for your enterprise? The Technology aspect is about identifying the technical options for a strategic design challenge, to support human activities and enterprise functions as part of an overarching structure. Technology Design involves a creative elaboration and orchestration of components.
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. 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.
What media, messages and symbols should your enterprise produce to connect to its audiences? Systems of signs provide ways for your enterprise to reach out to people, encoding stories and communication flows in media. The various subfields of Media Design give messages and symbols a form in words, pictures or sounds, and allow us to make identity visible, provide interfaces to tools and services, or support wayfinding.
What products, devices, tools or other artifacts does your enterprise make available, and how are they used? Things relevant to your enterprise include the objects people use, own, consume, take with them, trade, or create within its realm, both physical and digital artifacts. Designing things is following an Industrial Design approach, selecting materials and characteristics with usage, cultural meaning and marketization in mind.
Where are people interacting with your enterprise and each other, and what are their paths? Places are where people go, where they live or stay, meet or work. They provide the environment for activities in the enterprise, triggering personal and social associations, memories and moods. Both digital and physical place-making is Architecture work, generating context for people by shaping their surroundings.
Tools & Resources
A guide to the Enterprise Design Framework, a strategic design approach to tackling enterprise challenges.