11. September 2023

bay­ern design presents study report on design capa­bil­i­ty in the DACH region

Now also avail­able in English

It is clear that good design is an impor­tant com­po­nent of cor­po­rate suc­cess: many stud­ies have shown this and best prac­tices such as Apple, Tes­la, dm or Patag­o­nia live it, each of the com­pa­nies in its own way. What these role mod­els have in com­mon is excel­lence think­ing, which is also reflect­ed in design: They want to devel­op their capa­bil­i­ty to the fullest and do every­thing they can to devel­op it. In suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies, design excel­lence is a deci­sive fac­tor. Its expres­sion is adapt­ed to the strat­e­gy in each case.
The extreme­ly pos­i­tive response to the last bay­ern design study on the val­ue of design by Joachim Kobuss (Online in Ger­man, 2022) has encour­aged bay­ern design to con­tin­ue pro­mot­ing research on design for busi­ness and to make knowl­edge about design and its impact mech­a­nisms acces­si­ble to the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty and inter­est­ed mem­bers of the pub­lic. With Prof. Jan-Erik Baars from the Lucerne Uni­ver­si­ty of Applied Sci­ences and Arts, an inter­na­tion­al expert has now also been recruit­ed. He is the author of the design man­age­ment hand­book “Lead­ing Design. Using Design Strate­gi­cal­ly. How com­pa­nies unleash their full poten­tial!” (Munich 2018).

Design is more than just beau­ti­ful surfaces!
In a com­pre­hen­sive study, Prof. Jan-Erik Baars from the Lucerne Uni­ver­si­ty of Applied Sci­ences and Arts has now worked out the design capa­bil­i­ties and tried to clar­i­fy how these can be opti­mal­ly devel­oped in a com­pa­ny. With­in the frame­work of a case study with the com­pa­nies Miele and USM as well as a com­pre­hen­sive online sur­vey of 57 com­pa­nies, a com­pre­hen­sive frame­work was cre­at­ed that cap­tures and describes design capa­bil­i­ties. The goal was to devel­op a matu­ri­ty mod­el that helps com­pa­nies iden­ti­fy strengths and weak­ness­es and thus also devel­op design excellence.
Start­ing from a con­struct derived from exist­ing mod­els of design capa­bil­i­ty in a pre­lim­i­nary study, a vari­ety of aspects of design capa­bil­i­ty have been col­lect­ed. These were enriched by qual­i­ta­tive feed­back from inter­views with exec­u­tives of the com­pa­nies Miele and USM. In an empir­i­cal study using an online ques­tion­naire, 18 cri­te­ria for eval­u­at­ing design capa­bil­i­ty were derived and trans­ferred into a framework.
The eval­u­a­tion of the results of the 57 com­pa­nies shows a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed pic­ture: Over­all, the abil­i­ty is rat­ed as inad­e­quate, with the results for the top and low com­pa­nies being far apart. It is strik­ing that the abil­i­ty to plan and direct design was rat­ed far worse than the com­pe­ten­cies of the design cre­ators them­selves. Design plan­ning emerged as the skill that was rat­ed the low­est. Man­age­ment for design activ­i­ties emerged as the con­struc­tion site in most orga­ni­za­tions. Design man­age­ment is rat­ed as an under­de­vel­oped but essen­tial capa­bil­i­ty. The par­tic­i­pants in the sur­vey see this com­pe­tence rather not with the design cre­ators, but some­where else in the orga­ni­za­tion. It is also clear that top com­pa­nies are bundling their brands and design activ­i­ties and bring­ing them togeth­er both strate­gi­cal­ly and oper­a­tional­ly in order to cre­ate a coher­ent and con­sis­tent over­all picture.

The study also shows that there is a clear cor­re­la­tion between design capa­bil­i­ty and cor­po­rate suc­cess: com­pa­nies that think in terms of excel­lence and han­dle design accord­ing­ly achieve sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er cus­tomer accep­tance and see them­selves as more resilient. Design-capa­ble com­pa­nies can exploit the poten­tial of guid­ed design and secure both top- and bot­tom-line advan­tages. The abil­i­ty to use design opti­mal­ly for the com­pa­ny is one that must be devel­oped pri­mar­i­ly through man­age­ment: Design­ers are required to con­tin­u­ous­ly improve their exper­tise and adapt to change, but not to the extent that they them­selves must cre­ate and con­trol the frame­work con­di­tions for their func­tion­al role. Here lies an impor­tant task of oper­a­tional man­age­ment, which is not real­ly tak­en up at the moment, with the excep­tion of brand man­age­ment. The author of the study, Prof. Jan-Erik Baars, there­fore con­sid­ers adding design man­age­ment tasks to the lat­ter to be an impor­tant and pur­pose­ful step in the devel­op­ment of design capa­bil­i­ty in companies

Thanks to the partners
Part­ners of the study are the com­pa­nies Miele and USM, which made them­selves avail­able for two explo­rative case stud­ies and also sup­port­ed the study finan­cial­ly. In addi­tion to bay­ern design, the design asso­ci­a­tions des­ig­naus­tria, Inter­na­tionales Design Zen­trum Berlin (IDZ) and the Swiss Design Asso­ci­a­tion (SDA) pro­mot­ed the dis­sem­i­na­tion of the result­ing online ques­tion­naire, the eval­u­a­tion of which con­sti­tutes the main con­tent of the study. Thus, this study is based on a broad pan­el and part­ners from the entire DACH region. bay­ern design would like to thank all part­ners who made this study pos­si­ble, and espe­cial­ly its author, Prof. Jan-Erik Baars, who approached bay­ern design with his project idea.

Prof. Jan-Erik Baars (Foto: JEB)

Prof. Jan-Erik Baars, born Nov. 1964, is Dutch and has lived in Ger­many for many years. He began his career in 1990 as an indus­tri­al design­er at Philips in the Nether­lands. There he designed med­ical sys­tems, light­ing and con­sumer elec­tron­ics and was most recent­ly respon­si­ble for the small elec­tron­ics divi­sion as head of design. While work­ing as a design­er, he won all the major design awards, includ­ing the Rot­ter­dam Design Award in 1995. In 2009, he moved to Telekom in Bonn as head of design man­age­ment. In 2011 he start­ed his own busi­ness as a strat­e­gy con­sul­tant in Kem­pen, advis­ing com­pa­nies on how to increase their effec­tive­ness through improved use of design. Also in 2011, he fol­lowed a call to the Lucerne Uni­ver­si­ty of Applied Sci­ences and Arts, where he led the design man­age­ment field of study. In 2019, he moved to Lucerne to join the Fac­ul­ty of Busi­ness, where he is now a lec­tur­er and researcher. As such, he devel­oped the Cus­tomer Cen­tric­i­ty Score, a method to mea­sure the cus­tomer cen­tric­i­ty of an orga­ni­za­tion. In 2018, his book “Lead­ing Design” was pub­lished by Vahlen Ver­lag. In 2019, he joined the board of direc­tors of the Swiss design agency Vet­i­ca AG. From June 2019 to Decem­ber 2021, he was co-own­er and part­ner of the con­sult­ing agency Pre­new. Since June 2021, he has been a share­hold­er of Cus­tomer Met­rics AG, a com­pa­ny focused on mea­sur­ing and devel­op­ing cus­tomer cen­tric­i­ty. For many years he has been writ­ing and pub­lish­ing on design and man­age­ment issues on his blog designfokus.de. More at www.janerikbaars.com