Leading Design - what brings companies forward

Design is the act of deliberate improvement, of solving problems. And design management is the activity that supports design in organizations. It would be as simple as that.But only when design activities are aligned with corporate strategy can creativity and agility be lived effectively. Virtues that are more and more in demand in companies. Design is the [...]

Design is the act of deliberate improvement, of solving problems. And design management is the activity that supports design in organizations. It would be as simple as that.But only when design activities are aligned with corporate strategy can creativity and agility be lived effectively. Virtues that are more and more in demand in companies. Design is the means for companies to be able to offer differentiated and for customers relevant products on the market.Although many companies have recognized the potential of targeted design in the meantime, the necessary competence is often missing. For several years, therefore, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts has been offering the Bachelor Design Management, International (DMI) and, since February 2018, also a continuing education course: In a five-month Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Design Management, graduates learn how design can be developed and implemented as a core competence in their company.In the subject area of communication design, they receive support from the Winterthur agency Partner & Partner. This agency has been implementing design thinking in its own way for years, working successfully for various companies in the areas of "customer experience design", "strategic branding" or "1-to-1 marketing": the focus is always on the holistic design of the brand experience at all points of contact.The collaboration with Partner & Partner enables practice installations with real customers and concrete examples from practice. This allows course participants to apply their academic knowledge directly and generate real added value for their company.

"If companies want to survive, they must not only be able to manage, but also to shape"

Prof. Jan-Erik Baars in conversation about "Design Management" and the cooperation with the agency Partner & Partner. He is head of the CAS Design Management and author of the book "Leading Design - Design strategically einsetzen: How Companies Unleash the Full Potential!".

Professor Baars, why a CAS in "Design Management"?

Extremely simplified, companies must actually master two things if they want their company to survive in the long term: they must be able to manage and design. In administration, they ensure that the right resources are available, that everyone does the right thing, that processes are adhered to, and that objectives are created and monitored for their fulfillment. In design, however, the company develops the offerings, creates the meaning of the company, and thus creates an identity that is necessary to differentiate oneself from the competition.It speaks for itself that these two core activities must be perfectly aligned for a company to function optimally. However, this is rarely the case. There are significant gaps between management and design in an organization due to differing attitudes, motivations and competencies. The phenomenon of the siloed organization reinforces these gaps and often causes customers to perceive the organization's performance as inharmonious, inconsistent, and inconsistent. However, success requires just the opposite: harmony, consistency and coherence, no matter what you offer.For organizations to optimally align management and design, they need the right processes and structures, as well as competencies, to connect the two fields. And this is where design management comes in. Every company needs it, but many do not know where and to what extent to apply it. This knowledge is imparted in the CAS Design Management, which also makes it clear that there must be a different form of design management for every company - no company is the same. The aim of the CAS is to convey the basic premises of design management, the embedding of design in management.If you had to describe CAS in five words, what would they be?Design as a task for managers.Where do you currently see the greatest potential in design topics at Swiss companies?In strengthening identity and differentiation. In a networked, global economy, all competitors must meet minimum basic requirements in order to be able to participate. Agility, resilience and efficiency are important, but the difference is increasingly made by effectiveness, namely the ability to create an "impact" with the customer. Many companies, not only in Switzerland, do not yet understand exactly what they need to do to create impact and believe that activities such as design thinking are sufficient: This falls short. As we have already said, the companies that succeed are those that manage to perfectly coordinate everything they do - from the design of the offerings to the campaign and the service experience, along the entire customer experience chain, so to speak. Unfortunately, many companies only see design as the downstream "making things pretty." That's throwing pearls before swine!What approach do you recommend to companies that want to integrate design management more strongly into their corporate structure?First, management must understand design as part of its responsibility. Because if it only focuses on managing, it is not properly positioned. Design management is effective when it is seen as an aspect of corporate management. Only then are the necessary competencies created and resources made available. And only then can design management ensure that the design process is in line with the corporate process, regardless of what the company is doing.But for some companies, it is already an important first step to establish design management in purchasing, for example, to make sure that you at least know and coordinate what design activities are taking place in the first place, so that you can then slowly but surely align everything.pr-hslu-bild-baarsHopefully, in the future there will be more and more agencies in the design field that consciously deal with design management so that they can optimally embed their work in the higher-level design work of a company. After all, there is less and less need for the old breed of design gurus who, with their own view, tell companies what and how they have to design. At most in those companies that can only manage and have to borrow their design from someone else for lack of competence.*About the authors: Benno Maggi is CEO, founder and partner of the Winterthur agency Partner&Partner; Tobias Huber is project manager and consultant at Partner&Partner. 

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