What is Design Management?
Category : Learning Notes
Date : 9th October 2017



This was my first week in LCC. At the first part of “Design Management, Leadership and Innovation” course, we handed out with some discussion of design, management, and design management, listed below:


  • Design: There are many different definitions of the word “design” according to the dictionary. People may think “design” is the appearance of a product as a noun, or to think and create a product as a verb. However, after discussing Kathryn Best and Peter Gorb’s opinions on design management with the class, I have a new explanation with the word “design”. To me, I think “design” is a user-centred process with a series of steps. The purpose of design is to solve the problems of products, services, processes, or companies, and improve the user experiences and the quality of life.
  • Management: Management is about managing, controlling, organizing people to reach the goal.
  • Design management: Design management is to manage “design”, which can be a design product, a service, a team, or a company. “Design management” is like a bridge that links design, innovation, technology, and management altogether, in purpose to enhance the competitiveness of design and manage design to create value for the business.


Then, after reading the article “18 Views on Design Management”, our group started to discuss the various views between Stefano Marzano (CEO & Creative Director Philips Design), Samantha Selby, Victoria Walton, and Sarah Schlingmann (Graduated students of BA Design Management), and RitaSue Siegel (Design Executive Search). Stefano thought that “design leadership” is to help companies selecting the right strategies with visions and competencies, and should have a long-term vision that can help the company preparing for the future trends in society, technology, business, and science. The three graduate students thought that “design management” is a bridge between creative and business, and the aim of design management is to communicate. Because the design projects are usually team-based, communications between different parts would be very important. Finally, RitaSue compared “design managers” and “design leaders”. In her opinion, the former one is aiming to optimise resources and implement the programs in a most profitable way; and the latter one is aiming to improve the competitive position with the better design.


It is quite interesting to notice that Stefano and RitaSue, which are both in the business background, have the business points of views, and the graduate students have the academic thoughts. My group came out with the conclusion that they disagreed what RitaSue has said because they thought RitaSue paid too much attention to the “leading to improve competencies” part. They believe that it is quite enough to have a design manager as a bridge in teamwork, and no need to have another too powerful position. However, maybe it is due to my business background, I really understand what RitaSue’s point is. In my opinion, I think “design leader” and “design manager” are both important. Because on the business’ side, a manager’s work is to control the company effectively using the limited resources and reaching the goal in the most profitable way. But on the designers’ point of view, they want to create great designs which may cost a lot of resources sometimes. It is important to have a design manager who can communicate with designers and the business part, and also important to have a design leader who can have a vision of the future design to help the company to make a better and competitive decision rather than a cost-down decision.




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