As design students of the Industrial Design Engineering department at TU Delft University, we are practised in different skills. As part of the course Strategic Value of Design we were challenged to create a design consultancy positioning, a way of working and a specific method or tool of operation that acknowledges and applies the different capacities learned in this course and in general, in our practice of design.
For small to medium sized companies that seek opportunities for growth, Token is a design consultancy which provides portfolio strategy management through the translation and envisioning of the company’s core competencies and yearly goals into a vision board.
What we do
We provide new strategic insights in your firm’s product portfolio
Token is a design consultancy specialized in product portfolio strategy management, which is complemented by workshops, where a Vision Board is being created (figure 1). The Vision Board is than being used in the company’s environment to unite the members around the core yearly goals and competences of the company throughout the year.
Figure 1 | The Vision Board
For whom we do it
For small to medium sized companies
Token is especially effective in promoting innovative portfolio strategy management when directly involved stakeholders are taking part in the strategy creation through the complementary workshops. Therefore, Token is targeting companies which have a maximum of 50 products in their product portfolio. Companies should have the intention to launch new products yearly in order to provide the most effective outcome with our strategic tool.
Why we do it
Designers create a fertile ground for innovation
Managers and company’s main decision makers, like any other person, often get stuck in their ways, and set in their comfort zone. Innovation on the other hand, needs the opposite atmosphere in order to grow.
Token provides a comfortable and ‘safe’ zone for the company’s stakeholders to interact, envision, co-create, and explore, to make ‘outrageous’ suggestions and not being afraid to ‘sound stupid’ or ‘unrealistic’. This way, Token provides a fertile ground for innovation by promoting open discussion, an ownership that is created by co-creation of solutions (Calabretta, Gemser and Wijnberg, 2014) and an atmosphere of fun and exploration (Michlewski, 2008).
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
How we do it
We maximize your firm’s Return On Design
Token will create the portfolio vision and interaction with external sources more tangible, and in that way enable companies to see and comprehend which products are the key profit makers and which are not.
The traffic light ROD indication system
Token is utilizing a Return on Design indication system (figure 2) by conducting a visual comparison between the expected yearly percentage of profit of a product to the actual percentage of profit it made for the company. With Return on Design we aim at the products designed by the company, excluding profit from different investments.
Red: ROD is less than expected % of profit – negative growth (loss)
Yellow: No change in ROD % – no or insignificant growth
Green: More than ROD expected % of profit – growth
Figure 2 | Return on Design Indication System
Token offers a fresh outlook in the translation of your company’s portfolio (Calabretta, Gemser, Wijnberg & Hekkert, 2014) and transform this perspective into a visual representation for your company.
Token promotes innovation in your portfolio strategy and the internal interaction of your company’s members through explorative workshops. We give your company a boost for innovation and use of intuition in collaborative decision making processes (Calabretta et al., 2014), as well as reducing cognitive bias (Liedtka, 2014).
After the Token workshops, your resulting new portfolio strategy will serve as an evolving tool to innovate and evaluate your company’s products portfolio throughout the year. The workshops will take your company’s vision forward, and will be concluded with a tangible tool (e.g. a portfolio vision-board designed to cater your goals) that will enable embedding the solution and creating ownership of the members of the company on their company’s future goals (Calabretta et al., 2014).
After the strategy has been set and the complementary tool designed, Token will recommend the company to come back to update the vision for the next year with new products, new trends and social changes as well as new competitors or different target customer segments.
The workshops will last from one to three days, depending on the size of the company’s portfolio (i.e. the yearly number of products they have in the market). It will provide the company with a tangible vision about their portfolio which will be used for promoting a ‘safe zone’ for decision making and evaluating the portfolio throughout the year.
Case Study explaining our tool
To get a better understanding of the Vision Board, we will use a case study. The company used of this case study is Tony’s Chocolonely, a small Dutch company that is looking for deeper insight in their product portfolio as well as possible directions for future products. Token can play a major role in this process.
Process of making the Vision Board
The process of making the Vision Board consists out of two steps.
Step 1 | Creating the Vision Board
The tokens represent the existing portfolio of the company, added with the new products for the year. Each token will indicate the product’s stage in the Product Life Cycle as well its ROD expectancy indicator for the year. These tokens are made of magnets to allow maximum flexibility and evolving of the strategy envisioning tool throughout the year.
The vision board will be comprised from the main goal and capacities of the company in the middle, written on a digital display, which is also counting down the days of the year and updates important company’s issues regarding the portfolio. Three coloured rings that indicate the different ROD zones, the main target user groups as well as products from competitors and trends and developments in the outer ring.
As there are different shaped parts for the circular board, we can adapt everything to the wishes of your company. For example, the board will be suited for companies that have only one target group, but also suited for companies that have five or more. There are four target groups determined in the case of Tony’s.
Step 2 | Using the Vision Board in the work environment
After the vision board has been completed with the new year’s strategy, it will be hanged in a strategic spot in the company’s office to allow visual access and interaction for all the members of the company. The vision board can be used by the company as a dynamic tool to strategically come up with new innovations based on a broad range of aspects, like a specific target group, new trends in the industry or a new product from an important competitor. During the year the employees can add tokens and play around with them themselves. The digital active board will serve as a compass for the company’s strategy, as well as a reminder to come back to Token when the year is over. This is important as the environment is continuously in development; the competitive environment, trends and developments as well as the needs of current or new target groups change over time.
Figure 5 | The Vision Board for Tony’s Chocolonely
Token is a design consultancy that provides a way to strategically manage a company’s portfolio by integrating internal factors, external factors and the target customer groups in a vision board. The portfolio becomes a dynamic board with all these factors included. The board creates an overview of the product portfolio in terms of profitability per product and even per target group. It can be used inside the company throughout the year as an evaluation tool as well as a starting point for innovation.
As in the garden, in order to survive in the market, you always need to create new products; to ‘plant new seeds’.
Additional references for Token’s Design Capacities
- Visualization skills (Calabretta et al. 2014) & Making the intangible tangible, prototyping, Styling (Person et al., 2007).
- Portfolio strategy: creating a stronger brand recognition and a more cohesive strategy to include the clients goals for its brand (Person et al., 2007) & matching also company goals whether for cost, selling, profits or customer satisfaction (Snelders, 2012).
- Bringing spirit of exploration and creative energy to the office (Michlewski, 2008).
- Creating, bringing to life the intangible in such a way that the company’s brand or strategy is made more clear (Michlewski, 2008).
- Bringing design thinking and the user point of view (Brown, 2011).
- Empathy: creating a shared understanding and help clients break out of their frame, and construct a new one together (Beverland & Farrelly, 2011).
- Beverland, B., and Farrelly, F. (2011). Design and marketers: toward a shared understanding.
- Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard business review, 86(6), 84.
- Calabretta, G., Gemser, G., and Wijnberg, N. (2014). The Interplay between rationality and intuition in innovation decisions making.
- Calabretta, G., Gemser, G., Wijnberg, N., Hekkert, P. (2014). Collaborating with design consultancy firms for effective strategic decision-making in new product development.
- Hertenstein, J. H., Platt, M. B., & Veryzer, R. W. (2005). The Impact of Industrial Design Effectiveness on Corporate Financial Performance*. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 22(1), 3-21.
- Liedtka, J. (2014). Perspective: Linking Design Thinking with Innovation Outcomes through Cognitive Bias Reduction. Journal of Product Innovation Management.
- Michlewski, K. (2008). Uncovering design attitude: Inside the culture of designers. Organization Studies, 29(3), 373-392.
- Person, O., Snelders, D., Karjalainen, T. M., & Schoormans, J. (2007). Complementing intuition: insights on styling as a strategic tool. Journal of Marketing Management, 23(9-10), 901-916.
- Snelders, D. (2012). Useful fabrications: four stories about design for business.