A review of Double-Loop Design Management Model

Uma revisão do modelo Double-Loop Design Management

Gomes, A. Fernandes, F. Branco, V.

UA - Universidade de Aveiro
UA - Universidade de Aveiro
UA - Universidade de Aveiro

Retirado de: http://convergencias.esart.ipcb.pt

ABSTRACT: Small and medium-sized enterprises have a significant impact in any country’s economic performance. In these companies, design has to be managed effectively and efficiently to reach such performance. Since design management should start at the stage of defining the corporate strategies, design awareness probably plays an important role in the successful deployment of design. Nowadays, there is a constant search for design management models, which indicates the development and application of design management frameworks and its application in companies. In this work, it is reviewed a recently proposed and probably the broader design management model available in the literature, the Double-Loop Design Management model, with the aim of understanding the role of design awareness in the model.

KEYWORDS: SMEs; Design management; Design awareness; Design management models; Double-Loop Design Management model

RESUMO: As pequenas e médias empresas têm um impacto significativo no desempenho económico de qualquer país. Neste tipo de empresas, o design tem de ser gerido de forma eficaz e eficientemente para alcançar tal desempenho. Uma vez que a gestão do design deveria começar na etapa de definição das estratégias da empresa, a consciência em design desempenha provavelmente um papel importante na implementação bem-sucedida do design. Hoje em dia, existe uma procura constante de modelos de gestão do design, que apontem para o desenvolvimento e aplicação de estruturas/esquemas de gestão do design e para a sua aplicação nas empresas. Neste trabalho, é realizada uma revisão ao modelo de gestão do design mais recente e provavelmente o mais amplo existente na literatura, o modelo Double-Loop Design Management, com o objetivo de perceber o papel da consciência em design neste modelo.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE: PMEs; Gestão do Design; Consciência em design; Modelos de Gestão do Design; Modelo Double-Loop Design Management

1. Introduction

It is generally acknowledged that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute significantly to the economic performance of any country (Ford and Terris, 2017). Currently, in the fast-changing global market, SMEs exert a strong influence on the global economy (Zeng et al., 2010). According to Bruque and Moyano (2007), the ability for SMEs to innovate and develop new products and processes is a primary source for economic growth and technological progress.
Companies who manage design effectively and efficiently, usually perform better than the others. Therefore, good design results from a managed process (Chiva and Alegre, 2009). This is true for large enterprises but especially for SMEs since a SME may not be able to readily invest in design or design management capability (Ford, 2016).
However, it is also acknowledged that solely investing in design or engaging in design activities is not sufficient to ensure that design contributes to organizational goals and generates the desired business outcomes (Topaloglu and Ozlem, 2017). Theoretical and empirical studies reveal design management to be the mediating factor that determines the effectiveness of design projects and how design plays a role in improving business performance (Bruce and Bessant, 2002; Chiva and Alegre, 2007, 2009; Dumas and Mintzberg, 1989; Gorb and Dumas, 1987).
While the more traditional roles for design inside businesses have been largely limited to the design and development of products and services, the roles for design have broadened towards more upstream activities and responsibilities concerning the overall business context, strategy and organization (Topaloglu and Ozlem, 2017). Designers and their methods are now increasingly being called on to contribute in restructuring and shaping company strategy, brand strategy and communications; formulating new or improved business models and visions; as well as in driving organizational change and strategic renewal (Borja de Mozota, 2003; Buchanan, 2008; Deserti and Rizzo, 2013; 2014; Junginger, 2008; Lee and Evans, 2012; Lockwood, 2011; Ravasi and Lojacono, 2005; Smith, 2008; Turner, 2013).
Borja de Mozota (2002; 2006) defines design management as the implementation of design as a formal program of activity within a corporation by communicating the relevance of design to long-term corporate goals and coordinating design resources at all levels of corporate activity to achieve the objectives of the corporation.
Currently, there is a constant search for models, which indicates the production of frameworks about design management and its insertion in companies (Wolff et al., 2016). Examples of these models are the Argyris (1976) theoretical model on change management and the Acklin (2013) absorption model. Although these are effective, they are also very specific, focusing on certain particularities. For instance, the environment, the company culture and its knowledge are, among many others, key factors for efficient design management. Likewise, raising the design awareness may be the trigger that allows the firm to achieve a higher level of design integration (Doherty et al.,2014; Gulari et al., 2017) and usually not addressed by the previously mentioned models.
Based on this, Wolff et al. (2016) presented a model that captures, for instance, the relevance of the corporate environment, making it possible for the company organizational culture to emerge as standard for good design or on the contrary, as resistance to change. This model is the Double-Loop Management Model. In this work, a review about this specific model is performed, addressing its capacity to implement design management strategies in companies, addressing its capacity and the role of design awareness to implement corporate design management strategies, with a special focus on SMEs.


2. Design Management Models

Several strategies have been used to implement design management in companies. An example are audit models such as the recently proposed Design Management Audit Framework (DMAF) that aspires to identify and accommodate new capabilities and responsibilities that are necessary to support the changing and broadening context and roles of design (Topaloglu and Ozlem, 2017).
Nevertheless, focusing on design management models for SMEs, according to Cavalcante et al. (2016), these must be used not just for strategic and operational actions/activities but also to solve problems of unknown or trivial nature in order to allow the SME to grow. This growth happens at different levels: social, economic, workers (personally, professionally), etc.
More recently, Wolff et al. (2016) proposed and discussed the insights on how companies and designers learn and mature their procedures, and absorb new ways of doing design. These authors suggested insights for a new double-loop perspective of design management practice and indicators in which learning, maturity and absorption of design knowledge seem to be antecedents of design and design management, in a continuous and endless process. This model is based on Argyris (1976) theoretical model on change management and on Acklin (2013) absorption model.
The insertion of design management in a company occurs with the approach, integration and intention of the managers through three dimensions - process, competencies and strategy (Wolff and Amaral, 2008). Process refers to the relationship between the design team and its environment. Competencies are about the way design is understood and done. Strategy is directly connected to management, team subordination and strategic controls.
Fig. 1 shows the preceding results of design management, reinforced by a single-loop learning process as presented by Wolff et al. (2016). Similarly to other design management models, there is an issue since it is difficult to find a model that can evaluate different aspects regarding design management.


Fig.1 – Single-Loop Design Management Model


Source: Adapted from Wolff et al. (2016).

In order to evaluate design management, many tools have been created with focus on different results (Borja de Mozota, 2002; Design Atlas, 2000; Kretzschmar, 2003). Isolating variables is an effective mechanism for generating models since they restrict the analysis, which improves the performance of the tool and leads to a better comprehension or metrics (Wolff et al., (2016)). However, for a broader analysis of design management, it is necessary to understand how other factors, such as organizational learning, knowledge management, maturity and absorption act as the antecedents for the design management and how it can successfully lead to innovation, creative learning and ultimately impact on the performance of the company. Based on this, Wolff et al. (2016) presented the Double-Loop Design Management Model.
In this double-loop learning process model, design management is the central basis for analysis. Therefore, considering design management as the core, this mapping of theories presents its different influences on performance, such as: the designer as a central actor to project performance, for instance their personal background (Dechamp and Szostak Tapon, 2009) and competencies (Borja de Mozota and Kim, 2009; Ruas et al., 2005); and the management of company resources such as learning and absorption as important antecedents to design management.
According to Wolff et al. (2016), the results of a good double-loop design management, among others, seem to be: creative intelligence, innovation, brand, and design metrics. Many researchers indicate that good design management generate innovation (Tidd and Bessant, 2009; Verganti, 2009), performance and competitive advantage (Desbarats, 2006; Guo, 2010; Hertenstein et al., 2005; Mrazek et al., 2011; Viladàs, 2011), as well as brand performance (Aaker, 1996) and creative intelligence (Nussbaum, 2013).
The double-loop design management goes beyond a single loop, broadening design management into a double-loop experience. Based on the representation proposed by Argyris and Schön (1978), Wolff et al. (2016) presented the model as in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2 – Double-Loop Design Management Model

Source: Adapted from Wolff et al. (2016).


From what is understood, by doing proper design management, the results obtained reinforce the process in a single-loop learning process, represented by the central arrows. This first part of the model reflects what is well known in the research field of design management, representing the single-loop design management. On the left side, the design assumptions icon represents the design mindset, the policies and mental models of a company. The design assumptions, in this context, drive the way design management is done (Wolff et al., 2016). This is an important part of the model since the creation and the maturity of the design mindset are essential factors in the design management strategy, for instance to define different levels of design awareness, interpreted as the attitude and vision of the company regarding design and design management (Gomes and Branco, 2011). As for the double-loop design management, the external dark arrows show how design results can be mediated and empowered through absorption and maturity.
One can assume that at the moment, companies understand their outcomes as knowledge, and learn from this process, they absorb new design skills and capabilities, therefore, becoming more mature and more capable to absorb, in a reinforcing loop, as proposed by Senge (1990). In addition, the double-loop design management process characterizes itself as a reinforcing loop, where one action improves the next and vice-versa, as an endless process where both the absorption and maturity have an important role and will affect design management.
Design awareness can act as the inducer of the cycle, creating a design mindset in permanent evolution, represented by the design assumptions icon. This may allow determining the extent of awareness in the company and the benefits and the potential value that design and its management can offer. Unfortunately, there are still corporate managers which lack of awareness affects negatively the possibilities and potential benefits from an effective use of design. This lack of awareness may be related to the education and background of senior managers (cultural background, design training, technical and business knowledge, etc.), as well as their attitude towards so-called 'soft' assets, for instance brands and reputation (Hesselmann and Walters, 2013).


3. Conclusions

Design management is an endless process where certain aspects cannot be isolated. All sectors of a company are connected and when something changes every part is affected, for better or for worse. When defining design management models, it is not an easy task to choose which aspects can be isolated.
When developing a new model, it is important to understand the design management not only through the economic performance of the company, but also through the performance of design management processes to implement changes in organizational knowledge; to understand how the company learns and absorbs knowledge and the ways this can directly influence how companies manage design. Finally, it is also important to understand how absorption happens in design teams, what are the mechanisms that induce the process and on how companies perceive and increase their design maturity.
In conclusion, as a future work, it is necessary to investigate deeply how to enable the cycle, the role of design awareness in this stage and in the next cycles and to understand the influence of company external stimulus on the design assumption stage.



This work was developed within the scope of the project Light_Research, with the number 021954, financed by ANI.

This paper was presented at 6th EIMAD – Meeting of Research in Music, Art and Design, and published exclusively at Convergences.



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Reference According to APA Style, 5th edition:
Gomes, A. Fernandes, F. Branco, V. ; (2018) A review of Double-Loop Design Management Model. Convergências - Revista de Investigação e Ensino das Artes , VOL XI (21) Retrieved from journal URL: http://convergencias.ipcb.pt