Only a few months away from the Design Council led 2014 #LeadbyDesign Design Summit. Which looks promising. The Design Council released Leading By Design as a PDF downloadable here.

But is it worth the read and are businesses buying the message?

The report has been put together by Warwick Business School & Creative Boardroom. Which seems pretty interview orientated. There is a reasonably diverse sample group including local heros Trunki through to Virgin Atlantic. Which stacks up to a core message, we think is spot on, paraphrasing Pietro Micheli of the Warwick Business School “Design is most powerful when culturally embedded”  – As a design consultancy dealing with innovation such a range of sectors from consumer , medical to Street furniture we are big advocates for the value we know we can add.

However over the years we have come up against many businesses who fail to understand or even see design culture as a tangible thing.  I was a little surprised if not disapointed that the large organisations implementing design even into their workspaces ( see the video on this page ) did not have a means for measuring the impact on the business. Perhaps its obvious, we know the health and wellbeing benefits are well documented and its natural to see positive knock on effect- Yet I would still like to have seen some study, to help those smaller businesses who may feel this doesn’t apply or is just to costly to implement. In the UK SMEs after all make up the largest employer base.  At one point the issue of challenging design is raised perhaps as a paradox, in that somehow challenging design value reduces its value. I find this hard to see, all good design needs to speak for itself and demonstrate an ROI, if its going to be commercially sustainable.

We would have liked to have seen more focus on those companies who currently are not engaging in design, for it to cover the reasons perhaps they are not, whether this is cash flow restricted, or whether they simply don’t understand the power to think differently, to look at how your operating from a distance and to involve external design stimulus. While the report is compelling to the converted  –  we would love to see the Design Council work with those more stubborn areas in industry where blinkered vision has set in. We also feel that for many businesses, some of this appears to be rhetoric, to full of risk for hard to measure returns.  This need not be the way- It would be great to see the report bridge the gap for those business owners, to provide some case studies that helped demonstrate there are many ways to reduce the risk these days. The Design Council, have a pivotal roll in assisting economic recovery, perhaps the Design Council themselves could work developing tools, to assist businesses in measuring the KPI’s resulting in design investment.