“Design management is a complex and multi-faceted activity that goes right to the heart of what a company is or does [...] it is not something susceptible to pat formulas, a few bullet points or a manual. Every company's structure and internal culture is different; design management is no exception. But the fact that every firm is different does not diminish the importance of managing design tightly and effectively.”
– John Thackara
Design management is commonly termed as the “business side of design”. Both design and business are deeply interdependent within an organization and the success of one depends on how strong the other is. And yet both disciplines speak very different languages and often do not see eye to eye leading to failures in both fields. Design Management is a discipline that has evolved to bridge this gap and create more sustainable business and design practices. Elements of this are project management, design, strategy, and supply chain systems to enhance the creative process and build a structure and organization, focusing on market suitability, financial gains and long term sustainability.
It involves in depth research to understand user needs, discovering insights, and creating concepts that are holistic and suitable for the market, to produce sustainable business models, which would be robust and last for years to come. The process involves a multidisciplinary approach - working with areas of market research, strategy, design, marketing, production and finance.
It greatly involves the principles of service and systems design which deal with both tangible and intangible elements, which transgress into areas of technology, communication, Enterprise and hierarchy design and human behaviors. Innovations are sought that deliver, for example, more efficient processes and procedures, improved ecological performance and sustainable practices, greater customer satisfaction and competitive advantage.
The discipline allows you to:
1. Align design strategy with corporate or brand strategy, or both
2. Manage quality and consistency of design outcomes across and within different design disciplines
3. Enhance new methods of user experience, create new solutions for user needs and differentiation from competitor's designs
The discipline also covers a range of perspectives, focusing on how design thinking can address present as well as future challenges, preparing participants for leadership roles through projects which requires complex problem solving skills. It involves examining existing models and creating new directions for people, products, services and systems supported through a program of case studies, live projects and visiting professionals.
These principles help in managing the design process, and are relevant to a lesser or greater extent when working with creative people and providers of all sorts, from design and advertising agencies, product designers, branding and image consultants, to creative people providing design services for building and renovation.
It aims to build thinking needed to excel in the areas of design consultancy, management, research and design-led change making in private and public organizations as well as for doctoral study.