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Walking the Walk: Putting Design at the Heart of Business By Paul Gardien and Fe

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Special Edition Reprint from the dmi: Review 40th Anniversary Issue


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: vol.24 no.2, 2013

REPRINTED: vol.25 no.4, 2015



John Maeda is a graphic designer, computer scientist, academic, and author. His work in design, technology, and leadership explores the area where the fields merge. He was the president of the Rhode Island School of Design from 2008 to 2013. He is currently a design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.




By Brian Gillespie

No matter how great your global reputation for design, no matter how comfortable you are in the ways and means you employ to create great design for your company, if you wish to maintain your success and relevance as a design professional and a design organization, you must continually be open to change and able to respond to it. This article, by Philips design managers Paul Gardien and Ferdy Gilsing, will inspire anyone who believes the business of design is not a static thing but rather dynamic and in constant evolution. What is clear is that this evolution is not so much a movement from one stage to another as it is an accumulation of roles and responsibilities. The authors clearly describe the evolution of the role of design in business over the past several decades and outline how Philips Design is tackling this challenge and succeeding.

Philips Design established a model that can be usefully employed to benchmark your own company’s maturity and also to tackle the opportunities your selfreflections reveal. However, some may gaze enviously at a company with a 500-plus-person design organization operating from 18 or locations and wonder, “Can this be relevant for my much smaller organization?” It would be interesting to hear whether the model and its approach are adaptable for organizations of all size and industry. Also, since our “connected” world invites greater integration across people, places, and things, new ways must be found to integrate multidisciplinary design teams. It would be interesting to learn how companies that are working with external preferred and integrated design entities are managing these relationships to advance the role of the internal design organization as it matures to become a strategic partner to the business.

Finally, let’s realize that the highest level of maturity, in which design is fully integrated as a strategy throughout the organization, is not just a pinnacle of design thinking but also a pinnacle of strategic design management. Let it be about design thinking, design managing, and design doing! Gardien and Gilsing hope the publication of this work is “to kick-start a discussion within the wider design management community and find new ways to benchmark our work together.” Let’s not fail them on this!


Brian Gillespie is an independent design management consultant and a former principal in the service design team at Continuum Boston. He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Design Management Institute and mentor to the Service Design program at Savannah College of Art and Design.



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