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Design management involves all the processes involved in the management of a design process or design of a management process. A wide range of skills is necessary in co-coordinating and optimizing the design process. In most cases, the designer wants to ensure that the projects that they work in exceed the clients' expectation. The field of design management has been advancing like all other business disciplines. The development of digital technology has greatly affected design management. It has influenced the three main design domains positively. These include product, graphic and design.
Digital technology enable designers process various products. Designers currently use tools such as Mock-ups, 3D empowered PDFs and CAD tools which has increased the value of designs tremendously. These tools have released designer discipline from taking responsibility from the limiting field of styling.
These developments have enabled designers to broaden their thinking about the processes in design management. The importance of communication in design management cannot be underestimated. In all areas where communication takes place like in products, uniforms and in websites design management can always has something to contribute. The recent development is taking place in process design. Designers are today looking beyond convectional activities like product design, packaging and graphics. They have realized that they have important roles even in defining how firms use information, how new companies train employees, simplifying customer experience and so forth. Design therefore has become a collaborative activity requiring the input of many actors with diverse skills. This scenario calls for a paradigm shift since new conflicting ideas should be resolved. Conflict resolution in areas such as modification of the product and process management becomes of critical importance.
The emergence of the multi skilled players in the field of design management requires the interaction and collaboration in design. This is necessary since conflicts may come up from designers with respect to proposed designs. This is why it is necessary to have collaborative design. For illustration, conflict will occur if there are two incompatible designs or if one design party criticizes another design party negatively. In order to manage such a situation, five phases are necessary to be followed. The first one is detection of a conflicting situation. Then a conflict resolution committee is formed. The team involves the two conflicting parties in negotiation. The main responsibility of the team is to generate a solution. Finally, the impact of the solution is assessed.
Design thinking is a practical creative way of solving problems in search for improved future results. It involves combination of creativity, rationality and empathy to meet clients' needs in order to drive business success. A design thinker should be creative enough to build up ideas. The ideas that are generated should not becritisized in the initial stages of design thinking. The fear of failure should be eliminated and participation of everyone must be encouraged. This is necessary especially in the ideation and prototype phase. The designers should think outside the box and maximum input is necessary for generation of creative ideas. Design thinking has caused a paradigm shift in organization and management theory. The traditional Mathematics, Economics and Psychology (MEP) management paradigm has been replaced with the Architecture, Design and Anthropology (ADP) paradigm. The characteristics of the new paradigm are innovation and human centered enterprises. Design thinking process has seven concurrent stages. The seven stages include definition stage which involves defining the problem. Research stage, which reviews the history of the problem taking into consideration the various attempts already made to solve the same issue. The other stages are Ideate, prototype, chooses implementation and learning stage. The methodology is sure problem solving protocol and if applied provide extraordinary results.
Design leadership is leadership focused on generation of design solutions. The concept of Design leadership can be used interchangeably with design management. A design manager may operate in the field of design leadership and vice versa. However, the two terms cannot be interchanged. Various aspects of design leadership are leading through design, sustaining of design leadership and gaining achievements through design. The responsibilities of a design leadership include envisioning the future, manifesting strategic intent, organizing design investment, creating an environment of innovation and finally, training of more design leaders.
Designers today are paid not only to generate new designs but also to re-design the existing products. These are called the new and improved designs. The new thought emerging today is that people need to integrate ideas and in order to come up with solutions to human centered needs. This calls for designers to not only sit in the CAD station but to interact with customers in order to get insight into their needs. This results in real design innovation. This is the shift from designing to design thinking. Thinking in innovative ways causes a forward movement in design management.
Designers have more to offer than previously imagined. Designers today are involved in various projects aiming to improve the well-being of society. These range from economic projects to combating social ills. Designers are resourceful and are required in order to improvise the prototypes required in any project. They provide holistic people centered solutions. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts has supported various design organizations and design discipline as a whole. It established the Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) award to recognize the best designers. The organization also supports the design industry and encourages emerging professionals. New design projects focus on the ''progress and change today'' which involve activities to improve society. The traditional insights in design are used to enhance progress. So far, these projects are a clear demonstration of how design can add to resourcefulness of people and society in general. One of the leading designers commented, "Design can help to save the world once practitioners fully grasp the importance of sustainability and the role they can play in promoting it".
Companies like IKEA, Apple, and Sony have improved their profits beyond the ordinary by being the best-designed companies on earth. Sony is a company that makes powerful mobile phone products that are better, faster and useful. Sony deals in a number of products. Since its inception, the firm has made personal digital assistants (PDAs) so popular. It has a solutions group with the duty of designing and delivering its products. The company also focuses on integrating wireless devices to tackle various communication infrastructures globally. Advancement of the products is progressing rapidly. The Smartphone made by Sony not only bring functionality but also are affordable. Their latest packages have MP3, cameras and Wi-Fi Bluetooth. IKEA, Apple, and Sony are designer led. Not only do they develop their products based on consumers stated need, their designers shape markets to their benefit. The products they create such as iPod and walkman are underpinned by design led traditions. These firms understand that innovative thinking is focused on the final product while creative thinking involves the actual doing.
This is the secret behind their competitive success. The firms do not buy the idea that design and design thinking cause sustainable competitive advantage. They reject the fact that designers fashion products at the last stages of a production line so that they become visible attractive to customers. Design-led companies create greater margins in all products. A brand strategist in one of the firms commented, "Design-led firms find it impossible to separate the brand from the design process. In fact, design brings the brand's promise and core values to life". They do not view design as adding visual point but as the central point in a high tech protect. Their products are characterized by innovative technology and functionality. This shows that in the initial stages of product development, its design took the leading role. Design in such a case ceased to be a tactical afterthought and became the strategic imperative. The design moved from the usual copycat product to a radically different alternative.
For a company to have the design-led strategy, it must develop the following areas. The first one is a curious culture. It should lead consumers by introducing new-to-the-world products or services. Curiosity is necessary in design-led culture. The principle is applicable across range of products and a requirement in all industries. It can even be applied in waste management industry. A designer should think of turning garbage into designer product. A designer in food industry should position meat to a commodity-centered firm like food Lifestyle Company. This calls for introducing new standard brochures, better packaging of the products, exhibition installation and advertisement. The second requirement in a design-led strategy is cross-functional empathy.
In any company, designers should ensure that there is proper management of the competing interests. This is the only way to be certain that design ideas will translate market oriented, reinforced brand image. The products should also meet regulatory guidelines and lie within financial constraints. This calls for designers to continually search for solutions to problems and create new sources of inspiration. Existing product lines should be improved and new ones invented. The third requirement of design-led strategy is a Designer as constant ethnographer. The designer should not only understand designer functions but also be on the look out for new customer trends and scientific breakthroughs in terms of technology. This should be coupled with wider ideological views and being in touch with business practices. Finally, the Design should be a physical manifestation of the brand.