Climbing the design ladder: step by step

Design Management Institute
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of 19th DMI : Academic Design Management Conference, 2014, pp. 2576 - 2597
Issue Date:
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This research presents findings of a research project where the first author worked with a small to medium sized enterprise (SME) manufacturing company in order to integrate design at a strategic level within the company. This study aims to identify the changes experienced in the participating company while shifting the perspective of design from a product focus towards a strategic focus. Staff interviews at two points in time and a reflective journal were used as data sources within an action research methodology. A shift in the perspective of design was noted in three cultural changes within the firm over time: a focus on long term as well as short term outcomes, on indirect as well as direct value and on intangible as well as tangible benefits. These three components are proposed as ‘cultural stepping stones’ that describe how a company transitions from an exclusively product focused utilisation of design, to a process-level application of design. Implications of this research are provided as considerations for businesses that are attempting to facilitate a similar transformation in the future.
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