Designers and managers working together

There is a general opinion—not only in the design community—that non-designers make design decisions every day. Designers do tend to see this as an attack on their profession. And while mutual suspicions between managers and creative teams exist, there is a possibility to find a suitable management concept for every design concept.

In companies, there is supposed to be a tendency to either need purely technical design services or consulting on their design strategy. Therefore companies that are working on their corporate identity need designers with expertise in brand management and strategy formulation (Borja de Mozota, 2003, p. 167). If we try to generalize we could divide the design into companies on strategic, tactical, or operational levels. In the first case, we would be setting long-term goals while in the last we have to deal with day-to-day decision-making.

Whichever the case we are dealing with, strategic, tactical, or operational, for designers it is very hard to work with managers. This belief was confirmed by dos Santos: “…everybody knows non-designers are making design decisions every day. Designers tend to see this as an attack to their profession.” (dos Santos, p.202 in Best, 2006). Even more, in design one form of design rejects another (Borja de Mozota, 2003, p. 51). And for management design is unknown information. We should note in that sense that managers do not always react in a completely rational manner (Borja de Mozota, 2003, p. 75) which makes the process of design and management working together even more complex.

There is a very common belief that design and management belong to two different cognitive spheres. This belief is rooted primarily in the mutual suspicions managers and creative teams have of each other. If that belief about two different cognitive spheres of design and management is to be true, then design management must be viewed as an organizational learning process. De Mozota has developed a comparative approach of design and management concepts, seen in a Table below. We see that there is a possibility to find to every design concept a suitable management concept. Therefore the difficulties in cooperation between design and management should be handled in a cognitive manner (Borja de Mozota, 2003, p. 74).

Comparative approach to design and management concepts

Borja de Mozota, Brigitte. 2003. Design management: using design to build brand value and corporate innovation. Allworth Press. 281 p.
Best, Kathryn. 2006. Design Management: Managing Design Strategy, Process and Implementation. AVA Publishing SA. 215 p.

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