This article discusses the recently launched Design Maturity Report: A research project to identify, recognise and applaud Australian design-mature businesses.

My team & I were recently invited to attend an insightful design industry event facilitated by the Design Business Council, hosted at Deloitte Sydney.

Led by veterans Greg Branson & Carol Mackay, the Design Maturity Report represents a pioneering body of research that reflects a global shift in the understanding the value of design.

The Design Business Council identified 26 interconnected design disciplines possibly used within any organisation.

“Like strategy, design is an ambiguous term that can be misunderstood and misused. Asked to identify a type of design, most people outside the industry may be able to name fashion, product and perhaps web design, but it’s rare they can recall many more”.

And yet, our daily lives are shaped by designers. The device you are reading this on, or the level of comfort you have travelling to and from work, or even how you feel just looking at a certain product, is usually the result of decisions made by design practitioners.

The Report is the latest in a series of global efforts to recognise the clear relationship between the introduction of strategic design into an organisation and the multiples of return of investment they experience. The more an organisation integrates design-thinking within its value chain, the better the experience for everyone. Customers, staff, suppliers, and ultimately, shareholders.

Towards Design Integration

Here’s a quick exercise. Think how easy it is to open your phone and instantly Google for the best local coffee shop. Then call an Uber to take you there. Payment from your digital wallet is seamless. Examples of simple, well-designed experiences.

Now imagine you could take that simple, well-designed experience and apply it to everything a business does. The way it manages logistics, inventory and operations. How it interacts with customers, suppliers and investors. In this way, perhaps Apple is the best example a fully integrated Level 5 design-led company.

The Report references data from Invision that shares “In the top 5% of companies, design has become core to business strategy, impacting the most elusive business benefits of all – design IP and valuation or share price.”

The Design Maturity Ladder is used to categorise the level of design integration across a whole organisation from logistics and operations, through marketing & sales all the way up to C-suite decision making.

The Report also acknowledges an increasing trend towards Business design, referencing Accenture research Design in business: It’s not about creating something pretty. It’s about creating value. “Customer focus has given way to customer obsession… Product development is no longer about designing things customers want. It’s about designing solutions that give customers the outcomes they need.”

Research Outcome

Ten businesses of different sizes and industries were surveyed by the Design Business Council. The results were summarised as a mean score across ten business activities indicating the level of design integration.

“The Design Maturity Index is a useful way for design firms to demonstrate to clients how an investment in design can pay off. It’s an easy to grasp framework for non-designers, and best of all, it’s focussed on ROI,” said event organiser David Sharpe of Sharpe Advisory.

I was honoured that our Zileej Studio team were among the ten companies featured in the Design Maturity Report. Our team is on a continuous journey of design-led change and transformation. We serve our clients and customers best when striving for internal design maturity.

Andrew Hoyne, pioneering founder & place-making visionary.

Zileej Studio team members at the launch event discuss the value of design.

Peter Gould

Author Peter Gould

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