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Enterprise Design Stack

Introduce a shared language to discuss challenges in enterprise environments and ecosystems driven by complexity. Apply a system of lenses, explore key aspects to consider and prioritize. Introduce a map to navigate and translate between viewpoints.

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Enterprise Design Stack

What is it?

The Stack is the centrepiece of the Enterprise Design Framework. It is a map of 5 layers and with 20 aspects relevant to Enterprise Design practice. It guides teams in their decision-making what aspects to focus on, what to put aside for now, and how to make the link between different viewpoints on the enterprise. By scoping engagements to design everything needed to make the entrepreneurial project succeed, the Stack helps you to ultimately deliver on the underlying intent.

When to use it?

When starting an engagement, use the Stack to discuss which aspects are the most relevant to your challenge, your team members, your stakeholders and your environment. This is especially well applicable to any brief with an unclear scope, challenge definition or problem framing, and with a large stakeholder diversity. It is a tool to tackle the big questions: what are the strategic topics for the enterprise's leading thinkers and strategists, and how do they translate into investments and initiatives? What is happening in daily customer or employee interaction, what opportunities for innovation can be addressed? What needs to change soon, how to go about it?

How to use it?

The Stack is designed to establish a common frame of reference for cross-disciplinary teams, first introduced in our book Intersection. Use the reference white paper, poster, aspect icons and stickers as visual thinking aids, and refer back to them when applying the other tools of the Enterprise Design Framework. Move around the Stack aspects to discuss what to consider when, and make it part of your conversations with team members what level and what aspects you are talking about. Revisit the Stack regularly over the course of team activities.

Big Picture

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


Identity Identity

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.


Architecture Architecture

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.


Experience Experience

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.


Actors Actors

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.


Touchpoints Touchpoints

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.


Services Services

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.


Content Content

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.


Business Business

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.


People People

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.


Function Function

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.


Structure Structure

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.

Design Space

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.


Communication Communication

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.


Information Information

How will information be used in your enterprise, and how can it be organized to represent the overall structure?
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.


Interaction Interaction

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.


Operation Operation

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.


Oranization Organization

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.


Technology Technology

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.


Signs Signs

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.


Things Things

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.


Places Places

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.