Design Management is a leadership role, one that requires explaining, inspiring, persuading and demonstrating how design can positively contribute to an organisation in many different ways. – Kathryn Best

Design management is a relatively new discipline, but the importance of is now becoming more and more recognised across different business sectors around the globe.

Design managers are there to manage all the processes in relation to design, minding time-frames, values, standards, costs and team-work. They are improving design effectiveness. Simply put, Design Management is a business side of design and design champions are key drivers of change within the organisation.

Design Management is not just managing design processes of different products but also managing ideas. Managing practical  and theoretical issues. It is being responsible for creative and business processes, driving innovation and visions of companies as a their core.

Design managers drive solutions across economic, social, cultural and environmental factors.

Design leadership gives a firm identity and voice of design at senior management or boardroom level, enabling the organisation to plan and drive future growth with design as combustion engine of innovation and inspiration.” It acts like a “corporate glue”.

Design manager oversees the whole process and therefore has to have an in-depth knowledge about all the stages of design processes- starting from a brief, ending with the packaging and transporting the finished product in order to be able to explain it to the team and client.

“Design management is a discipline in continual motion, changing, responding and adapting to the ever-increasing dynamics of social and business transformation. It’s value as a force for change and thinking is growing in prominence, reaching far beyond of realm of industry and commerce, forging a strong presence within public sector institutions and not-for-profit organisations.”

Design Managers might be employed across various roles, such as- art director, design researcher, design strategist, brand manager, creative director, design director etc

For an Experience Design Consultant at IBM, who has studied Design Management Masters in Barcelona, Jan Dimitri “Design Management is better to be called design thinking.” It is incredibly collaborative process where you are going deeper in understanding users needs. Design Management, as a discipline, integrates innovation processes, multidisciplinary decision-making, a human centred mindset and business strategies, to create effective products and services.

Design management is about creative thinking and design thinking. It is understanding the whole process and applying it by creating a solution. It is problem-solving and innovation, pushing the boundaries of the fields. It is being able to navigate the unknown, adapt to environment, relate to audiences and develop relevant solutions.

As design or creative thinking cannot always be straightforward and could be easy for the  “think master” to understand, however this could be not as easy for other parties which might not be as involved in the whole design process.

As good friend of mine, an architecture student in Leeds University once quoted “You have to understand all your concepts so well, that you would be able to explain it to your grandmother.”

Adair, J. (2009). Effective leadership. London: Pan.

Best, K. (2006). Design management. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia., (2016). What is Design Management? – Design Management Institute. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Feb. 2016].

Entrevista Jan Dimitri | Master Design Management | IED Barcelona. (2016). [image] Available at: [Accessed 12 Feb. 2016].

Hands, D. (2009). Vision and values in design management. Lausanne: AVA Academia.


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