A new report from the Warwick Business School has identified key practices through which organizations in various industries are using design to attain maximum impact, and includes eight recommendations for companies looking to gain a competitive advantage through design. The report, "Leading Business by Design," was compiled by Pietro Micheli, associate professor of organizational performance at Warwick, and will form the basis of the Design Council Summit at the British Museum in February.
Micheli conducted 48 interviews with top management at 12 private companies ranging from Barclays, Diageo, Jaguar Land Rover, O2 and Virgin Atlantic to small firms like DCS Europe, Gripple and Trunki.
The report says business leaders cited sales growth, increases in market share, enhanced customer satisfaction, greater process efficiency and employee productivity as a result of investment in design. Also, design was used to open up uncontested markets, strengthening brands and differentiating products and services to attract new customers.
To reap the full benefit of design, though, Micheli says a company needs to have it fully embedded in its organization.
"Our analysis reveals that the impact of design is lowest when design is seen as a service, an organizational function that has a well-defined and limited scope. It is higher when designers are involved throughout the process of new product or service development from beginning to end," Micheli said. "The impact of design is greatest when design and designers challenge existing assumptions and meanings of products, services, categories etc. We also found that design can benefit manufacturing and service-based organizations, small, medium or large. Plus, design's benefit is greatest when it is intimately related to solving problems, especially customers' problems."
The report includes eight recommendations for companies looking to maximize the impact of design:
1. Don't limit the context in which design can operate
2. Use design to differentiate
3. Integrate design and branding
4. Introduce a design process
5. Trust and support your design talent
6. Embed design in your organisational culture
7. Design your work environment
8. Don't let the designer's role be a straitjacket
For more information, visit the Warwick Business School.
Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company's website.