What is Design Management and how will it make you a better business leader?

More and more business leaders are adopting design management strategies to solve business problems and introduce customer-centric design that works.

Find out how Northumbria Masters in Design Management can boost leadership, sustainability and innovation within your business.

Think about design management, and visions of monotonous teams of designers working together on the production of design-led projects might come to mind.

In fact, design management is widely recognized as a game-changer for business leaders. Over the past two decades, successful brands like Apple, Tesla, and BT have all used design management as a guiding principle to create a winning strategy and hone their competitive edge.

What is design management and why is it important?

Design management is defined by the Design Management Institute as a solution that “seeks to link design, innovation, technology, management and customers to deliver competitive advantage”. Design management is a strategic tool that has been embraced holistically by some of the world’s most successful companies to ensure they continue to drive innovation.

Design Management Institute study points out that design-focused companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, Procter & Gamble outperformed most S&P 500 companies by 219% over a ten-year period using design management tools. Design management principles drive these companies to deploy design staff and practices across all major business units. This has made design a key strategic catalyst and a resource for innovation and change.

Essentially, design management enables business leaders and entrepreneurs to take a pragmatic view of problem solving and embed design thinking into the organization. This allows business environments to operate efficiently in all parts of their business.

From designing simple products to building a people-centered business

A key lesson that business leaders can learn from design management is how to put customer needs first. The needs of end users are put forward so that they promote an ethic of problem solving within the organization. This philosophy applies to all aspects of the business, from marketing to HR. According to McKinsey, “with this goal, design becomes a tool for change, capable of transforming the way companies do business, hire talent, compete and build their brand.” Brands like Apple and Netflix have taken design management tools into practice to fuel their success.

Does Studying Design Management Make You A Better Leader?

Key principles that SME and start-up business leaders can learn include leadership, sustainability, and innovation, all of which can bring holistic benefits to the business. From the approach described above, it is clear that design management is not just the domain of designers. All aspects of the business can benefit from a solid understanding of design management. Design management courses can give business leaders key lessons in:

  1. Improve innovation cycles – by avoiding the traditional slow process of product development in favor of more agile and flexible methods.
  2. Putting customers first – by reaching out to their end users to determine how a problem or issue affects them, in order to create a product or solution that improves their lives or improves their business experience.
  3. Create a more effective strategy – adopting design management methodologies to help find new solutions to organizational challenges, bridging traditional business disciplines and the creative world of design to find a better way to do something.
  4. Foster a positive organizational culture – using design-driven management skills to create a culture that is both nurturing (recognizing that it’s rare to get it right the first time) and encouraging, giving employees the confidence to come up with new ideas without risk losing face.

Become a strategic leader through design management

Northumbrian School of Design are committed to helping students acquire key design management skills to drive growth and innovation within their organizations. Their distance education online Master in Design Management accepts students from all walks of life, with no prior experience required. Additionally, studying with Northumbria University allows students to pay module by module. This is your design management course, your path.

Additionally, Northumbria has a proven track record of developing design management talent and has a well-known alumni roster including Rob Law MBE, founder of Trunki, Sir Jony Ive, former chief designer of Apple products such than the iPad and the iMac.

Be a strategic leader. Learn more about how Northumbria Masters in Design Management will help you unlock innovative solutions in your business.


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