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Climbing the Design Ladder: Step by step

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This research presents findings of a research project where the first author
worked with a small to medium sized enterprise (SME) manufacturing
company in order to integrate design at a strategic level within the company.
This study aims to identify the changes experienced in the participating
company while shifting the perspective of design from a product focus
towards a strategic focus. Staff interviews at two points in time and a
reflective journal were used as data sources within an action research
methodology. A shift in the perspective of design was noted in three cultural
changes within the firm over time: a focus on long term as well as short term
outcomes, on indirect as well as direct value and on intangible as well as
tangible benefits. These three components are proposed as ‘cultural stepping
stones’ that describe how a company transitions from an exclusively productfocused
utilisation of design, to a process-level application of design.
Implications of this research are provided as considerations for businesses
that are attempting to facilitate a similar transformation in the future.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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