Can I shift from ID into a Design Strategy job?


I’ve been working on product design for the past 10 years and now I’m considering a shift into design research and strategy. I’d like to learn more about the realities of being a strategist and what it may take to transition into such a job. Do any of you out there work in research/strategy? Any words of experience and advice?

I love details and nuance of 3D design (and will always work with my hands - at least on my own time), but I’m looking for a new challenge. I’m always looking for the big picture, so that I can fully understand the product needs. I’m more function-minded and not as interested in styling. I love the idea of researching within a framework and analyzing and writing about the findings. I’m also super interested in where our consumer culture is going and how we may move into digital/virtual goods. Strategy seems like a good fit for me, but I do need to learn more.

I’ve been looking at some of the jobs out there, and people on linkedin who currently have those jobs. It seems like previous experience/education is not always a requisite. Some people have fine arts backgrounds, others - business. I have a BA in fine arts and small business and an MID in ID. I’d rather not go back for another degree, but would happily apprentice/start as a junior/do it on my own. I just need a little direction.

Any advice out there?

Many thanks!

Welcome to core77,
after ten years your a mid/senior-level designer. you should have a pretty good idea of what research and strategy entails. how much your current employer allows you to do those tasks now is directly impacting your ability to transfer.
It’s the chiken or egg problem, no-one will hire you to do something your not already good at unless it’s entry level.

How willing you are to “apprentice” could be the deciding factor. if you would offer to intern with someone you admire you may have the best chance of learning on the job. who would you most like to work for?

thanks no_spec. I’ve had a “non-traditional” design career so far. I haven’t worked in a consultancy, which is where strategists are usually found. My employers have generally been consumer products compnaies, in the outdoor market. For them, research has not been a priority, hence my interest in learning how to do it right. I’ve also freelanced for years and have found that at my level it’s been hard to convince someone to spend the extra money on research, especially if it’s not my main skill. Yes, a Chicken and Egg problem.

This is an interesting conundrum - I would also like to know how to one day potentially transfer into a more R&D type position ( I am a mid level ID’er with 4 years experience ) - I confess to not have looked into it too much at this point but I would guess that one way to go about it might be to do a little essay writing in your own free time - if you can get some some of your stuff blogged on a site like Core, it instantly gives you a raised profile in that field which you can refer potential employers too.

No doubt since you have little experience in this field though you will have to start at a lower position, but this could give you your “in”, and shows that you’re engaged in this type of work whether you’re getting paid or not. Without any experience you need a way to show employers what you can do for them. Thoughts?