Defining the strategic future of a digital platform

February 9, 2024
Claire Jaycock

Recently, the design team at the Co-operative Bank invited us to join forces with them for a couple of weeks of strategic thinking and conceptual work. We were tasked with helping to define the future of their Internet Banking Web Platform. This is how we approached it.

Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s hard work trying to see into the future. 

To ensure we make informed, smart and sustainable decisions around technology and customer experience, we first need to have a good idea of where we are headed. And the people contributing to that vision need to work well as a team.

At Octave, we take pride in our ability to help our partners adapt to the changing needs of digital experiences. One of the ways we do this is through our collaborative approach to design thinking, strategy and problem-solving.

Recently, the design team at the Co-operative Bank invited us to join forces with them for a couple of weeks of strategic thinking and conceptual work. During this time, we were tasked with defining the future of their Internet Banking Web Platform.

While it sounds like a fun idea to lock a bunch of designers in a room for two weeks to see what masterpieces they can create, it’s important not to leave things to chance.

To ensure we got the outcomes we needed, we based our daily project activities loosely around a Google Design Sprint methodology. This approach gave us just enough structure, direction and clarity around deliverables while still allowing creativity and lateral thinking to happen. We modified activities and outputs to suit the needs of the participants, stakeholders, remote working and our objectives.

Our modified “Octave Design Sprint” looked a bit like this:


We spent the first two days of the sprint with stakeholders, subject matter experts and the Co-operative digital banking leadership to explore the problem space and pick their brains. We reviewed strategy and research documentation together and generally got to know each other as a team.

With all projects, it is essential to set the scene, understand the landscape you are working in and create a safe place for participants to share ideas. 

In this situation, we merged the client's in-house design team and our Octave design team to create a hybrid super crew. As each person and group brought their own perspectives, it was critically important that we were on the same page. By creating a shared understanding of the problems and goals and developing awareness and mutual respect, we built an environment where we could each contribute value to the process.


After some thorough scene-setting and team bonding, we were ready to start putting pen to paper. Ideation can be an incredibly fun and rewarding process, but it requires a high level of psychological safety and respect among team members. Agreeing as a group on good practices and rules of engagement at the start of the sprint will set you up for success in this department.

During ideation, we encourage designers to go wide and explore big and small, outrageous or sensible ideas. This work gave us a foundation to make bold and relevant decisions in the Refine phase of the sprint.


Now we had a big stack of ideas. And we needed to decide what to do with them.

To refine these ideas and pick the direction best suited to the Co-operative Bank and its customers, we measured the ideas up against the themes, principles and direction that came out of the Understand phase. At this critical time, we re-engage subject matter experts and stakeholders to sense-check ideas and bring them on the conceptual journey. We captured feedback and refined our focused ideas.

Outcomes and Outputs

At the beginning of the sprint, we agreed on some clear outputs and deliverables. We needed a clearly articulated strategic direction for the Co-operative Bank web platform in a stakeholder pack with supporting visual design to illustrate future concepts. 

As the pack came together, we tested it on various stakeholders and colleagues, ensuring we had nailed the messaging and communicated effectively. The outcome was an unexpected, brave and smart strategic (and top secret for now) direction that left designers and stakeholders enthusiastic and excited for the future.

Although merging in-house and agency design teams is not a traditional approach to the problem-solving process, we embraced the chance to evolve and change our processes to ensure the best outcomes. 

Creative and flexible approaches to problem-solving are crucial to staying relevant in a changing world, and it enables Octave to build deep, long-term partnerships with our clients. 

Big thanks to the Co-operative Bank team for the fun design sprint. We can’t wait to see the evolution of your Web Platform being brought to life.

To discuss how we could collaborate with your team, contact