Most consumers don’t read your mission statement; those values need to be visible in your design and their interactions with your brand.
By 2008, Deepa Prahalad T’00 had worked as a management consultant for a range of companies, from start-ups to multinationals. So when she met Ravi Sawhney and he asked her to create a business plan for his strategic design firm, RKS, she was eager to focus her skills on a new industry. But when they met again, Sawhney had a new proposition. Instead of consulting, would she be interested in co-authoring a book with him on strategic design? Prahalad jumped at the chance.
“It sounded a lot more exciting to me than the typical consulting opportunity,” she said.
Their book, “Predictable Magic: Unleash the Power of Design Strategy to Transform Your Business,” came out at the end of 2010 and was rated by Fast Company as one of the 13 best design books of the year. Since the book was published, Prahalad has been blogging regularly about strategy and design for The Huffington Post and Harvard Business Review. In a way, she took up the family business. Her father, C.K. Prahalad, was one of the world’s top management thinkers, penning such books as “Competing for the Future” and “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” about converting the poor into consumers. C.K. Prahalad passed away in 2010, but not before he had a chance to read his daughter’s manuscript and give it his blessing.
What was it like to grow up in a household with a management guru?
As a family, we didn’t just accept that what exists is the way things always would be or should be. One of the benefits of being in the strategy profession is that you’re always thinking about how you can take things to the next level and move things forward. The bias toward being future-oriented stuck.
Why did you and Ravi Sawhney want to write “Predictable Magic”?
RKS started to look at how to understand what makes a successful design, because there’s a huge variety of things people respond to at every price point. I think they had come upon this idea of emotions being a trigger point of how people accept or reject different things.
Why are emotions important to design?
If you can try to predict people’s emotional response accurately, that can make a huge difference between success and failure. It’s not simply how you feel about the design, but how the design makes you feel about yourself. We provide a practical toolkit for managers and designers to incorporate emotional insight into their design and strategy at every phase.
What perspective did you bring to the book?
I critiqued the traditional view that design is something that should come in at the end of the process. I created the EMPOWER framework in the book to enable businesses to understand how to connect design, emotion, and narrative in their strategies. If you look at all of the main strategic challenges we’re dealing with today—how to innovate, be sustainable, reach new markets, globalization—they require design. So viewing strategy and design as discrete activities doesn’t work, it needs to be viewed as a continuum.
What’s the takeaway for businesses in the design phase?
Using design to connect with a wide audience can be a form of strategic advantage for companies that are savvy. If you’ve lost that emotional connection, even if you give financial incentives, people are not eager to test out your product. People are eager to test out something new from Apple or Google, to be part of that process. Most consumers don’t read your mission statement; those values need to be visible in your design and their interactions with your brand.
Charles F. Preusse II
A partner at Ridgeway Partners, Charles Preusse, II T’95 is a matchmaker of strategic talent.Read More
After guiding National City Corp through the financial crisis, Peter Raskind D’78, T’79 found civic engagement in confronting two of Cleveland's public crises—for the sum total of $2.Read More
Christoph Böhmer T’96 is helping lead a 500-strong volunteer effort to resettle Afghan, Iranian, and Syrian refugees in Germany.Read More
Lauren Krostue T’10 tried working in other industries, but something about the hospitality world kept drawing her back.Read More
How to Promote Diversity and Nurture Talent
After Tuck, Suzanne Schaefer T’02 went into management consulting, figuring that eventually she might connect with a particular industry—to her surprise, she instead felt a strong pull toward recruiting and talent development.Read More
At Tuck, Jayne Hrdlicka T'88 learned to think deeply and challenge convention—skills she draws on today as CEO of the Jetstar Group of airlines.Read More
Shawna Huffman Owen
If you think the Web made travel agents obsolete, Shawna Huffman Owen T’98 has news for you.Read More
Kathryn Baker T'93 is a true expert on boards of directors. She has served on more than 20 of them over the last 16 years, ranging from oil and gas companies to Norway’s Central Bank to Tuck’s own European Advisory Board.Read More
Over twenty years ago, Carolyn McGuire T’83 helped form Community Consulting Teams of Boston. It’s still going strong today—and facilitating a lot of good work.Read More
T'98 Victoria Levy’s post-Tuck career took off with The Monitor Group, an iconic strategic consulting firm where she became a partner by age 33. Now, the firm has been acquired by Deloitte and Levy is guiding the integration of the two practices.Read More
Bill Achtmeyer T’81 has worked with hundreds of senior executives at Fortune 500 companies and shares five pieces of advice for managing a large organization effectively.Read More
Fluent in four languages and passionate about entrepreneurship, Michelle Mooradian D’95, T’04 went from her post-Tuck consulting job at Opera Solutions to spend almost five years working for McKinsey’s Rio de Janeiro office.Read More
Tips for Transforming Your Career
After positions of increasing seniority at Morgan Stanley, McKinsey, and JPMorgan, Kate Grussing T’91 decided she wanted to transform her career by helping others transform theirs.Read More
Amy Feind Reeves
A consultant turned job coach, Amy Reeves T'92, was able to research, model, and project the successful future of her business using the skills she acquired at Tuck.Read More
In much of the Middle East and North Africa, cash is still king. PayPal’s Francis Barel T’05 wants to change that, and open people’s lives to the world along the way.Read More