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Leading Business by Design

Leading Business by Design

20 June 2013

Leading Business by Design is our qualitative research project that investigates the strategic use of design at senior levels in a sample of UK and global businesses.

We worked with Warwick Business School to interview business leaders with experience of applying design at board level.




Design is everything, because without it we have no business. Anybody can design a decent product. They can’t all design outstanding products. So, design is the differentiator.



CEO, Pentland Brands plc (owners of Speedo)


The report highlights our three key findings on how businesses can benefit from design:

  1. Design is customer-centred - Benefit is greatest when design is intimately related to solving problems, especially customers’ problems.
  2. Design is most powerful when culturally embedded - It works best when it has strong support in the organisation, especially from senior management.
  3. Design can add value to any organisation - Design can benefit manufacturing and service-based organisations, small, medium or large.

Leading business by design also offers our eight recommendations for how companies can maximise the impact of design:

  1. Don’t limit the context in which design can operate
  2. Use design to differentiate
  3. Integrate design and branding
  4. Introduce a design process
  5. Trust and support your design talent
  6. Embed design in your organisational culture
  7. Design your work environment
  8. Don’t let the designer’s role be a straitjacket

Inspired by the findings of this research, we hosted a Leading Business by Design summit at the British Museum on 12 February 2014. View videos of the key presentations and highlights from the day

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