Strategic Planning in Dynamic Environments: How Design Thinking Can Complement Corporate Communication

Document Type : Original Article


Business School, Pforzheim University, Pforzheim, Germany.


Corporate communication planning is in transition. In a VUCA world, planning has to adapt to volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous contexts. Strategic planning analyzes, plans, implements and evaluates communication programs or campaigns – but at the same time needs to become increasingly agile. This article develops the argument that strategic planning is evolving from conventional, rather linear approaches to new, more dynamic models. Based on a literature review, a new perspective is offered by introducing design thinking principles, practices and techniques to the body of knowledge in communications research. Thus, the paper addresses design thinking as a mindset and as a means for creative problem solving within corporate communication planning. Findings of a qualitative study conducted among communication agencies and consultancies in Germany suggest that elements of design thinking are already being used and implemented by practitioners. The study found that there are at least five types of implementations, three of which showed clear linkages to design thinking. Based on these findings, the article conceptualizes a modular, stakeholder-centered approach to corporate communication planning.