From Valuing Design to Designing Value

DS 81: Proceedings of NordDesign 2014, Espoo, Finland 27-29th August 2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Miko Laakso, Kalevi Ekman
Author: Doherty, Rohan; Wrigley, Cara; Matthews, Judy
Series: NordDESIGN
Institution: Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Section: Design theory and practices
Page(s): 600-609
ISBN: 978-1-904670-58-2


This paper presents findings of an embedded action research project within a small to medium sized enterprise (SME). Through the implementation of design-led innovation processes, this research aims to identify the changes experienced in the participating company during a shift in the perspective of design from a product focus towards a strategic focus. Staff interviews and a reflective journal were used as methods to collect data from a range of design interventions that were facilitated throughout the engagement. A shift in perspective of design was evident through three cultural changes within the firm. First, the perceived outcome focus of design became increasingly long-term. Second, the value of design outcomes became less directed towards current projects, and more directed towards future possibilities. Finally, the perceived tangibility of design outcomes shifted from tangible to intangible. For example, design activities which produced customer insights, rather than product features, became seen as beneficial to the firm. These three components are proposed as cultural stepping stones which describe how a company transitions from an exclusively product-focused perspective and utilisation of design towards design as a company based process. Implications of this research provide considerations for designers who are attempting to facilitate a similar transformation within a business in the future.

Keywords: Product design, design as strategy, design-led Innovation


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