an online conversation
about design management

So what is design integration?

Last year I attended a seminar on design integration. Some of my colleagues think that this is a term that is only used and understood in academic and government circles.

One definition of design integration goes like this;

“Design integration creates breakthrough innovations in business by applying design thinking to corporate strategy and business processes in a coordinated manner.”

The Victorian Government Design to Business integration interprets it this way;

“Design to Business (D2B) Integration helps firms to use design across their business activities to become more innovative and achieve sustained competitiveness and growth.”

This program is delivered by a New Zealand company called Equip. You can see more about their approach here.

Many approaches to design integration

There are a number of Australian organisations and government departments touting design integration. It is all based on work done by the UK Design Council in their Design for Growth program.

In Australia Enterprise Connect has funded four businesses to undertake design integration programs with Equip Design Integration, a New Zealand based company. They have developed a system based on the UK Design Council model and now sell this into Australian and New Zealand businesses.

The programs all have a common ground in that they work with a company to change its culture to be a design led business. This involves working with the design of products and services and showing business owners and employees how design thinking can be applied.

“Design has emerged as a serious tool for business growth in the high cost economy,” says Adam Blake, national programs and partnerships director at the Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC). “You need only look at the success of design-led firms in Scandinavia, Germany and Northern Europe to realise that design delivers a significant return on investment.”

“For many manufacturers, it will require a complete cultural transformation and an entirely new way of thinking about their business strategy,” says Blake.

Design integration begins with design, business process, communications and financial audits. These audits establish the business as it exists. The second phase is to determine where the product or service wants to be. This leads to a gap analysis. Strategies are then developed to close the gap.

The identification of what a client says they need and what they really need is a part of the Selling design value workshop run by the DBC.