|Strategic plans are usually based on traditional statistical research and market segmentations like age, gender, zip code. Those segmentations do not reflect what people think about when they make decisions to buy a product or use a service. What do people think about before, during, and after they use a product or service, and how can understanding that impact strategic development? This study develops an approach to identify new strategic opportunities using design research to investigate the core rationales people have towards products and services. Once the core rationales are understood designers and managers can use that knowledge to develop a strategic plan that will make people's lives better and businesses more profitable. The second facet to the study is to make the approach ultimately scalable. Large businesses have the resources to outsource research and proposals for strategic actions, but small businesses cannot afford outside help, and typically strategic development does not rank as important as day-to-day operations (i.e. paying employees) to small businesses.
The approach is developed through two case studies. The first, TimeQuake, answers the question: ``Why are wristwatches losing footing in the timepiece market due to the ubiquity of digital devices in our daily lives?" In TimeQuake the way people interact with and think about time is explored using an existing method; the result is a new offering that enables people to interact more smoothly with others with different timestyles. Allowing people to work in their own way while collaborating is at the heart of TimeQuake. The second case study, Full-Duplex, is a collaboration with a business local to Auburn: CoachComm. They have a unique offering that is synonymous with football field communication. Now that they have captured the football market, CoachComm wants to find out where else their offering could be sold. Identifying CoachComm's core benefits and finding people whose core rationales line up with those core benefits is the basis for Full-Duplex. Together, these case studies show that the approach can be applied to projects varying in scope and size. The common thread is that listening to people is the way to understand what they want and need, where current offerings stand, and what should be pursued.