Strategy Patois with Kate Rutter

By Tom Wood @Foolproofer

This session with Adaptive Path’s Kate Rutter was a bitter-sweet experience for me. The fact that some of this stuff needs saying is a bit frustrating. But the truth is there were some people in the room that see business and marketing language as soul-sucking, and who resist engaging with business in its own language and on its own terms.

Kate pointed out that there is a perfectly serviceable language that we can develop for design which can be understood universally by business strategists. As practitioners we should definitely get busy on this, rather than wait for Alan Sugar to read himself in on human-centred design, behavioural models and personas.

Other highlights being talked about in the tea-break were:

  • A reminder about the power of conversion models to draw out a data-based hypothesis about the outcomes of design activities. If the marketing guys can show up with numbers then let’s remember that we can too. And that it’s a pretty useful discipline for developing our thinking about design problems.
  • Pointing out that we sometimes need to park our instincts for story-telling about how we will design and get straight to the bit where we explain the commercial outcomes of design.

Overall, if something did need to be said then it’s good that it could be done by someone as experienced and sensitive as Kate. My own view is maybe a little more straightforward: if you want to do business in Germany, you’d better learn German; if you want to do business with business people you’d better learn the language of business.

Tom Wood

I’m one of the two founders of Foolproof. Within projects I usually take a role both in planning our approach and in the generative phases of design. I’m also active in gathering client and customer needs into the design space. My particular talent is helping senior stakeholders see and understand the customer’s world in richer detail, and helping them work out how to respond.

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