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Written by: Prof. Veronica Vecchi, MISB Bocconi and Mr Vishal Kapoor, Future Group
August 05 2015: Times Of India (Mumbai)

To harness growth, build competitive advantage and succeed in a very dynamic and globally interdependent ecosystem, companies should be able to offer unique solutions to the complex and pertinent problems, and to close the service or product gap to reach the unmet demand.

In the last few years, new concepts like “disruptive or catalytic innovations“, “customer-centric innovation“, “shared value“, “non-competitive strategy“, “design thinking“ have been introduced to capture new approach to innovation and strategy . However, to navigate through the global economic environment and to reach a long-term and sustainable profitability, companies need more than “one fits all“ management tools.



They need the ability to understand consumers, individual and communities, with reference not only and strictly to their economic behaviour, but also to their habits, their traditions, their expressed and unexpressed needs, their technological, social, cultural, ideological and sometimes even religious beliefs. They need the culture of design thinking to seep in the organisation DNA. However, it is not only a matter of understanding needs and creating disruptive innovations. These innovations must be transformed into goods and services that must be sold at the right price to increase the firm’s value, bringing then the value to the stakeholders at large. Against this backdrop, Design management is emerging within the most dynamic and forward thinking companies and business managers as an alternative to the conventional analytic, linear and function-driven management approach, traditionally taught in business schools across the world and so far put in place by the majority of firms.

Let’s get this clear though! Design management is not about design, as perceived so widely in its functional and aesthetic avatar only. It is branching out of the design thinking values and philosophies and providing a differentiated approach towards solving critical problems, thus becoming a key innovation enabler in large and small organisations, across the globe. It goes beyond the design thinking approach: it is more a design doing approach.


Design management is a cultural ingredient and a managerial mindset. It permeates into all aspects of the organisation, integrating the strategic, functional and operational domains. For this reason, it is more than a mere strategy formulation or the design of a new disruptive product service. In any case, we all know that a good strategy formulation is not enough and what matters most is its execution, especially when disruptive innovation is generated. Every manager, in every organisational function, must know how to deal with these innovations and how to collaborate to transform the innovation into good services to be sold at the right price so as to generate or increase the firm’s value. Design management takes actually into account how to shape processes, lead teams, execute plans, and communicate values in order to transform an idea into a product service that will increase the sales and profitability of the company and or generate a dramatic social change. However, to drive innovation at an individual and organisational level, this must become a new organisational attitude and behaviour and not just an organisation’s function or department. To find interesting examples of how much the design management approach can prove useful and be applied, we don’t need to go abroad. 

To sum it up, the design management approach is now an imperative for those managers who want to upscale to a global career and to work in a complex, unpredictable, multi-cultural business and social environment. However, they must be careful when they choose their education. Many business schools simply offer rebranded programmes, without providing any deep change in their curricula and learning methodologies. Furthermore, executives who would like to jump into the design management approach should choose those programmes that allow a deep matching between education and practice. It means that part-time programmes prove more effective as they give the chance to apply immediately the concepts, skills and know-how acquired, thus allowing a development of the necessary competencies and attitudes to become a successful design manager.

Dr Vecchi is director of executive education, MISB Bocconi, Bocconi India and Kapoor is chief group design office and concept business head, Future Group

Originally the article was published on Aug 05 2015: The Times of India (Mumbai)