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What drives organisations to employ design-driven approaches? A study of fast moving consumer goods brand development

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Younjoon Lee
  • Martyn Evans
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Design Management Journal
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)74-88
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In recent years, the role of design in business has increasingly moved its concern away from only creating tangible artefacts to attempting to use design to drive organisational cultural change. The success of a design-led culture at multinationals such as 3M, Samsung, Apple and P&G has triggered interest in the use of design to support innovation in product development and the management of such processes (Baglieri, et al, 2008; Trott, 2008; Bruce & Cooper, 2000). Despite design being placed much higher on the corporate agenda, research into the integration of design into an organisation’s DNA has uncovered a problematic relationship between business and design. This disconnect is often attributed to differing mindsets and conflicting working practices of design and business professionals (Davenport, 2009; Fraser, 2009; Lafley & Charan, 2008; Verganti, 2006).
In the context of the leadership of design, there are still substantial hurdles to extend the reach of design beyond its traditional role in product development to ultimately influence organisational culture. Within traditional development projects, design has been focussed upon time dependent, solution focussed, tangible project outcomes. Such instances may result in innovative and creative solutions but these activities may fall short of connecting with organisational cultural change. Without continued organisational support, the utilisation, implementation and ultimately effectiveness of design are limited (Topalian, 2002). The disconnect between disciplines, in particular design and dominant business disciplines such as marketing, is a barrier to integration of design into business culture (Drews, 2009; Bessant, et al, 2005; Beverland, 2005; Filson & Lewis, 2000) thus there is a clear need for the entire organisation to resonate with designerly ways of thinking (Dunne & Martin, 2006; Martin, 2009; Lockwood 2009) if they are to maximise benefits.
Although there are increasing calls for organisations to become design driven (and ultimately design led) (see Jenkins (2009) for example) through engagement with concepts such as design thinking, design-driven innovation, and designerly doing (Brown, 2009; Verganti, 2009; Neumeier, 2008; Fraser, 2006), organisational culture often remains resistant to such change. There is little guidance for organisations in how to adopt a more designerly approach in specific sectoral contexts - particularly challenging when this is an alien culture to how they operate. Leadership of design in such situations is fraught with danger. There is a need for sector specific understanding of design adoption across a range of different contexts (Collins, 2010) to ensure that research is relevant to the needs of specific industry. Where organisations have adopted designerly approaches, the lack of guidance with regard to how to navigate and lead such change through design has resulted in an ad hoc adoption of design thinking and design-driven innovation perspectives.
This paper aims to investigate the adoption challenges of designerly approaches within brand development in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector and proposes a framework to support the connection of designerly approaches to organisational cultural change. It provides leaders with an understanding of FMCG sector specific challenges and a route map to support organisations though such change.
FMCG brands pervade our everyday life in the form of consumer packaged goods yet Olins (2007) claims that the industry has a propensity to stick with the status-quo in terms of brand development processes. Page and Thorsteinsson (2011) indicate constraints in FMCG brand development: 1) complicated manufacturing and product development mechanism due to the relationship to logistics and detailed regulatory requirements, 2) the limited capacity for the integration of internal and external parties into the brand development process. These characteristics – limited capacity to integrate internal and external stakeholders combined with a production are considered to inhibit the FMCG industry from adoption of designerly approaches which can ultimately result in innovative solutions. Hence, it is imperative to understand what impedes integration of designerly approaches into FMCG industry and to envisage the benefits of designerly approaches into brand development. Two key research questions are be considered: 1) What is a role of design in the FMCG industry? and 2) What are the barriers and drivers to the adoption of designerly approaches in the FMCG industry?
A pragmatic investigation into the ways of employing design and underlying features in FMCG industry from multi-faceted perspectives is presented in three phases: firstly, content analysis identifies the features that underpin a new role for design in the organisation; secondly, quantitative data from an online-survey identifies current ways of employing designerly approaches in the FMCG industry, and finally a follow-up qualitative approach was adopted to explain underlying factors which influence the results.