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Strategic design is the practice of "design strategy: the application of future-oriented "design principles in order to increase an "organization’s innovative and competitive qualities. "Traditional definitions of design often focus on creating discrete solutions—be it a product, a building, or a service. Strategic design is about applying some of the principles of traditional design to "big picture" systemic challenges like [business growth,] health care, education, and climate change. It redefines how problems are approached, identifies opportunities for action, and helps deliver more complete and resilient solutions." 
Its foundations lie in the analysis of external and internal trends and qualitative data, which enables design decisions to be made on the basis of facts and user needs rather than aesthetics or intuition yet differs from traditional approaches to business strategy due to it's focus on the end user experience. As such it is regarded as an effective way to bridge innovation, research, management and design.
The discipline is mostly practiced by "consultancies, design agencies, or by internal development departments. Businesses are the main consumers of strategic design, but the public, political and not-for-profit sectors are also making increasing use of the discipline.
Its applications are varied, yet often aim to strengthen one of the following: product "branding, "product development, "corporate identity, corporate branding, "operating and "business models, and "service delivery.
Strategic design has become increasingly crucial in recent years, as businesses and organisations compete for a share of today’s global and fast-paced marketplace.
“To survive in today’s rapidly changing world, products and services must not only anticipate change, but drive it. Businesses that don’t will lose market share to those that do. There have been many examples of strategic design breakthroughs over the years and in an increasingly competitive global market with rapid product cycles, strategic design is becoming more important.”
Many full time strategic designers began their careers in traditional design disciplines such as industrial, visual, or user experience design and later built competency in the application of "design to drive business value while others started in "business and later added "design methods to their toolkits. However, with the emergence of "design thinking, professionals ranging from social services providers to corporate executives and beyond are being educated and enabled to use strategic design-based approaches to solve challenges and become effective contributors to multi-disciplinary strategic design teams.
In recent years, a number of higher education programs focused on applications and theory of strategic design have launched by combining education in design with education in technical or management topics. Among the most notable of these programs are "Parsons' Strategic Design & Management Bachelors and Masters, "MIT's Integrated Design & Management Masters, "Northwestern's MMM double Masters (MBA & MS in Design Innovation), "Carnegie Mellon's Master of Integrated Innovation, "Stanford's Design Impact Masters, "Central Saint Martins' Birckbeck MBA, the "Royal College of Art's Global Innovation Design Masters, and "Rotman Design Works.