Design is hard. Thinking is hard. If design thinking seems easy, check to see if that is because there is not enough design, or not enough thinking. Design implements strategy. Strategy is a tough game. Especially when dealing with services. Due to the very nature of services, customers are active players on the other side. For services to produce their desired effect, tangible and intangible parts have come together within a window of opportunity. Unintended conflict can make it a zero sum game.

Human-centered design is a hygiene factor and great user experience is ‘necessary but not sufficient’. And, as we have seen in the case of Uber, even after billions from investors subsidizing every instance of your service, it is difficult to make a profit without structural change. Besides, a single ruling or regulation can disrupt your disruption. Whether for profit or for public good, the challenge is to produce superior outcomes and experiences at lower costs. Especially when those using your services are not the ones paying for them.

Strategic design is therefore grueling fun. Good designs allow strategies to be bold, expansive, and not too costly to implement. Not just financial, but also in terms of political, ecological, and environmental costs. Because they are simple and sophisticated, good designs are free of gaps and conflicts, hidden costs and risks, false choices and compromises. From a design process that combines creativity and imagination with critical reasoning and counterintuitive steps.