Scholarly article on topic 'Design Innovation Catalysts: Education and Impact'

Design Innovation Catalysts: Education and Impact Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Cara Wrigley

Abstract Organizations globally look to design to help them innovate, differentiate, and compete in a changing economic climate. Consequently, design is increasingly being regarded as a dynamic and central tactical business resource. Considering this, the question is raised: how can the specific knowledge and skills of designers be better articulated, understood, implemented, and valued as core components of strategic innovation in businesses? In seeking to answer this question, this paper proposes a new frontier for the design profession, coined the “Design Innovation Catalyst” (DIC). This paper reflects on both extant literature and the teaching of seven DICs embedded in industry, conducting innovation projects run over a twelve to twenty-four month period. This paper reports on a unique set of six capabilities analyzed as being not only essential for the implementation of design-led innovation, but of great assistance in overcoming its associated challenges. This paper outlines the role of these new design professionals, and discusses the value these novel capabilities provide organizations through employing DICs. Furthermore, questions surrounding how designers will develop these new capabilities, and how the design-led innovation framework in application can contribute to the future of design will also be presented.

Academic research paper on topic "Design Innovation Catalysts: Education and Impact"

Cara Wrigley, University of Technology Sydney, Australia

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Design Innovation Catalysts: Education and Impact

Abstract Organizations globally look to design to help them innovate, differentiate, and compete in a changing economic climate. Consequently, design is increasingly being regarded as a dynamic and central tactical business resource. Considering this, the question is raised: how can the specific knowledge and skills of designers be better articulated, understood, implemented, and valued as core components of strategic innovation in businesses? In seeking to answer this question, this paper proposes a new frontier for the design profession, coined the "Design Innovation Catalyst" (DIC). This paper reflects on both extant literature and the teaching of seven DICs embedded in industry, conducting innovation projects run over a twelve to twenty-four month period. This paper reports on a unique set of six capabilities analyzed as being not only essential for the implementation of design-led innovation, but of great assistance in overcoming its associated challenges. This paper outlines the role of these new design professionals, and discusses the value these novel capabilities provide organizations through employing DICs. Furthermore, questions surrounding how designers will develop these new capabilities, and how the design-led innovation framework in application can contribute to the future of design will also be presented.


Design education Design research Design-led innovation

Received August 9, 2016 Accepted October 24, 2016

Cara Wrigley (corresponding author)

Copyright © 2016, Tongji University and Tongji University Press.

Publishing services by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the

CC BY-NC-ND license (

The peer review process is the responsibility of Tongji University and Tongji University Press.


Interest surrounding how design can spur innovation has gained momentum in recent years through many business innovation-oriented publications. New concepts regarding the relationship and intersection of design, innovation, and business have been developed in design practice, such as the concept of "design thinking" and its application to business.1 The value of design carries weight in business as it can produce a different way of thinking, doing, and tackling problems from external perspectives. Businesses have recently begun to see design as the key to greater productivity, resulting in higher-value products and services, better processes, more effective marketing, simpler structures, and a better use of people's skills.2 Design is now perceived as more than just a niche market-it has become one of the most persuasive and effective processes for solving problems, ensuring long-term business sustainability, and gaining competitive advantage. Consequently, design has increasingly become a vital and important strategic business asset, contributing to the success of innovation.3 Demand for change within industry is evident, with many companies universally looking to design to help them transform, innovate, differentiate and compete in a global marketplace. The benefits of design include increased quality of goods and services, improved production flexibility, and reduced material costs.4

As previously reported,5 design and designers are entering an era when our ability to solve complex problems is sought out above our technical competencies. The shift to expand our once graphic, product, and interaction domain design knowledge is transitioning into the age of information systems6 and business model design.7 Central to the relationship between design and business is the role of design-led innovation (DLI).8 It is the belief of the author that design-led innovation is positioned at the intersection of design, innovation, and business-and thus serves as a viable and necessary tool in transitioning from artifact design to business model innovation. This is not to say that all designers need to make this transition-rather that this emerging field needs first to be addressed as a professional domain in order to engage in this new era of design.9 This raises the question of who should facilitate this role. Over the last decade, many business schools worldwide have developed design thinking foundational and compulsory subjects dedicated to solving business problems creatively, with some degrees doing this more successfully than others.10 It is the proposition of this paper that the "Design Innovation Catalyst" (DIC) fulfills this role spanning both business and design knowledge domains.

The concept for the DIC was first introduced by Wrigley and Bucolo,11 and is influenced by Norman's12 transitional engineer concept-itself a third discipline inserted in the middle of business and design to translate between the abstractions of research and the realities of practice. Described as "transitional developers," these people act as translators, converting design research into the language of business while also translating business insights into design problems for designers to address.

Martin13 identifies the need for a creative thinker-the "Innovation Cat-alyst"-to be appointed inside organizations, to lead the way using the design thinking traits of empathy, ideation and experimentation. However, questions still remain pertaining to who these catalysts are, how-and what-is to be taught, and most importantly, what value they bring to organizations. This paper aims to investigate these questions and contribute to the existing body of literature regarding these catalysts. This paper presents an empirical study of seven design innovation catalysts trained in a postgraduate research program that were deployed in seven businesses to drive innovation efforts over a twelve to twenty-four month period. Findings suggest a set of six overall required capabilities and knowledge sets, and

1 Tim Brown, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation (New York: Harper Collins, 2009); Henry Chesbrough, "Business Model Innovation: Opportunities and Barriers," Long Range Planning 43, no. 2-3 (2010): 354-63; S. MacDonald, "Design Thinking and Design Innovation Scotland," in proceedings of the International DMI Education Conference, Design Thinking: New Challenges for Designers, Managers and Organizations (Cergy-Pontoise: ESSEC, 2008): 14-15; Roberto Verganti, Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules

of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2009).

2 Klaus Krippendorff, "On the Essential Contexts of Artifacts or on the Proposition That 'Design Is Making Sense (Of Things)'," Design Issues 5, no. 2 (1989): 9-39.

3 Verganti, Design-Driven Innovation; Claudio Dell'Era, Alessio Marchesi, and Roberto Verganti, "Mastering Technologies in Design-Driven Innovation," Research-Technology Management 53, no. 2 (2010): 12-23.

4 George Cox, Cox Review of Creativity in Business: Building on the UK's Strengths (Norwich: TSO, 2005).

5 Richard Buchanan, ' 'Wicked Problems in Design Thinking," Design Issues 8, no. 2 (1992): 5-21.

6 Richard Buchanan, "Design Research and the New Learning," Design Issues 17, no. 4 (2001): 3-23.

7 Chesbrough, "Business Model Innovation."

8 Cara Wrigley and Sam Bucolo, "Teaching Design-Led Innovation: The Future of Industrial Design," Design Principles and Practices 5, no. 2 (2011): 231-40.

9 Kees Dorst, "The Core of 'Design Thinking' and Its Application," Design Studies 32, no. 6 (2011): 521-32.

10 Judy H. Matthews and Cara Wrigley, "Design and Design Thinking in Business and Management Education and Development," in 25th Annual

Figure 1 Design Innovation Intersection.

Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference: The Future of Work and Organisations (Wellington, NZ: ANZAM, 2011), available at wp-content/uploads/pdf-manag-er/629_ANZAM20ll-448.PDF.

11 Cara Wrigley and Sam Bucolo, "New Organisational Leadership Capabilities: Transitional Engineer the New Designer?," in Leading Innovation Through Design: Proceedings

of the DMI 2012 International Research Conference (Boston: Design Management Institute, 2012), 913-22.

12 Donald A. Norman, "Technology First, Needs Last: The Research-Product Gulf," interactions 17, no. 2 (2010): 38-42.

13 Roger Martin, "The Innovation Catalysts," Harvard Business Review 89, no.6 (2011): 82-87.

14 Ron Adner, "Match Your Innovation Strategy to Your Innovation Ecosystem," Harvard Business Review 84, no. 4 (2006): 98; Christopher Zott, Raphael Amit, and Lorenzo Massa, "The Business Model: Theoretical Roots, Recent Developments, and Future Research" (working paper no. 862, IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Barcelona 2010), available at pdfs/di-0862-e.pdf; Chesbrough, "Business Model Innovation"; Mark Johnson, Clayton Christensen, and Henning Kagermann, "Reinventing Your Business Model," Harvard Business Review 86, no. 12 (2008): 57-68; Joan Magretta, "Why Business Models Matter," Harvard Business Review 80, no. 5 (2002): 86-92; Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010); David J. Teece, "Business

the articulation of an engagement model for the education of such catalysts in the future.

The Intersection of Design, Innovation, and Business

It has been documented previously by many authorities that design can help businesses innovate through processes like design-led innovation and the generation of new business models.14 An important distinction of the design-led innovation process is that it is not only a problem-solving approach-as design thinking suggests—but is also a transformational process at a business level, and not exclusively at the product level (Figure 1). The conservative role designers perform in the innovation process within a business is increasingly being challenged, and requires further emphasis on the value design can bring to an organization.

Martin15 has published widely on the relationship between design and business, asking the key question, "Why can't business and design be friends?"16 He makes it clear that business is centered on reliability, whilst design is focused on validity-and it is this conflict between the two approaches that creates tension. Martin and Norman17 both build upon Moore's "crossing the chasm"18 concept, suggesting the way to successfully collaborate is to "appreciate the legitimate differences; empathize; seek to communicate on their terms, not yours, using tools with which they would be familiar; and stretch out of your comfort zones."19

The future need and use for design lies in the coupling of the project and business levels through a holistic approach to products, services, and business models. This correlates with broader research trends that indicate design is moving away from a product-centric approach, and towards a method centered on business model innovation acumen. Crossing this chasm is not only being attempted from the design side of the equation, but also by the widespread uptake in design thinking units in MBAs globally.20 Yet most of these focus on the dissemination of design methods to business executives in order to solve problems from a more customer-centric view. In all reality, such programs educate managers on the value of the design process, rather than actually up-skilling any of the graduates to become catalysts themselves-giving way to a gap in knowledge about where the two edges of the chasm meet, and how a specialized educational program could assist in this cause. There is a lack of empirical evidence to support design-led innovation approaches that indeed achieve commercial success-in addition to the lack of knowledge regarding concrete and tangible methods, guides, and tools for design-led approaches that can drive innovation for successful business growth.21

Design-Led Innovation Theory

The purpose of a previously published design-led innovation framework22 (Figure 2) is to assist companies who have the desire to grow by utilizing the strategic value of design within their business. The framework illustrates that within any business,

Figure 2 The Design-led Framework.

a fluctuating scale exists spanning operational and strategic activities that have either an internal or external focus. Diverse divisions within an organization are consigned with these different activities, and have specific targets depending on their functional role within the business. The framework uses the term "opportunity" or "proposition" as the pivotal aim, which weds all aspects of the organization together. As seen in Figure 2, the design process is dispersed across a dotted line describing activities such as co-design, re-frame, and customer insights. As the design concept matures, all aspects of the business are informed or have the ability to inform the opportunity, driving change and growth. Despite several such frameworks and conceptual models being presented on the topic,23 the field lacks empirical evidence surrounding design-led innovation research. Dong24 identified such a significant evidence based gap in this field of research when he suggested that the models to date were more perspective than evidence based.

The Design Innovation Catalyst

Building on the role described by Martin25 as the "Innovation Catalyst," the role of the "Design Innovation Catalyst" (DIC) is to translate and facilitate design observation, insight, meaning, and strategy for all facets of the organization. In this role, the DIC continuously explores, instigates, challenges, and disrupts innovation internally and externally-all from a position within the company. The DIC extends this process to re-aligning business activities and subsequently mapping these activities back to the strategy of the firm. Engagement and involvement with many different internal and external stakeholders is vital to the design-led innovation process guided by the DIC, who is continuously and iteratively prototyping solutions and shaping the central value proposition of the firm.

The DIC aims to understand and improve a business, which requires the regular crossing of two axes-learning-teaching and academia-industry. The frequency with which this role crosses the learning-teaching chasm forces the individual embedded as a catalyst to digest, reflect on, and understand imparted knowledge with similar regularity. Frequency is also an issue with regard to the industry-aca-demia axis, with industry's need for the timely implementation of improvement initiatives seeming to conflict with academia's requirement for the application of

Models, Business Strategy and Innovation," Long Range Planning 43, no. 2-3 (2010): 172-94; Christopher Zott and Raphael Amit, "Business Model Design: An Activity System Perspective," Long Range Planning 43, no. 2-3 (2010): 216-26.

15 Martin, ' 'Innovation Catalysts"; Roger Martin, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking Is the Next Competitive Advantage (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2009).

16 Roger Martin, "Design and Business: Why Can't We Be Friends?," Journal of Business Strategy 28, no. 4 (2007): 6-12.

17 Martin, Design of Business; Norman, "Technology First."

18 Geoffrey A. Moore, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, Revised ed. (NewYork: Harper Business Essentials, 1999).

19 Martin, Design of Business, 177.

20 Judy H. Matthews, Sam Bucolo, and Cara Wrigley, "Multiple Perspectives of Design Thinking in Business Education," in Design Management: Towards a New Era of Innovation—2011 Tsinghua-DMI International Design Management Symposium Proceedings, ed. Jun Cai et al. (Hong Kong: Tsinghua DMI Symposium, 2011): 302-11.

Figure 3 Design Innovation Catalyst Framework.

21 Andy Dong, "Design x Innovation: Perspective or Evidence-Based Practices," International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation 3, no. 3-4 (2015): 148-63.

22 Sam Bucolo, Cara Wrigley, and Judy Matthews, "Gaps in Organizational Leadership: Linking Strategic and Operational Activities through Design-Led Propositions," Design Management Journal 7, no. 1 (2012): 18-28.

23 Roberto Verganti, "Design, Meanings, and Radical Innovation: A Metamodel and a Research Agenda," Journal of Product Innovation Management 25, no. 5 (2008): 436-56; Verganti, Design-Driven Innovation; Jonathan Cagan and Craig M. Vogel, Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval (Upper Saddle River: Financial Times Press, 2002); Krippendorff, "Essential contexts of Artifacts."

24 Dong, "Design x Innovation."

25 Martin, lysts."

'Innovation Cata-

26 Judy H. Matthews, Sam Bucolo, and Cara Wrigley, "Challenges and Opportunities in the Journey of the Design-Led Innovation Champions," in Leading Innovation Through Design: Proceedings of the DMI 2012 International Research Conference, ed. Erik Bohemia, Jeanne Liedtka, and Alison Rieple (Boston: DMI, 2012), 768-75.

a rigorous and methodical process to make valid contributions to the knowledge base. The Design Innovation Catalyst Framework (Figure 3) enables the catalyst (bottom left corner) to learn within the university environment, by absorbing knowledge, discovering theories, and critiquing and questioning existing research. Within industry (top left corner) however, learning takes place through the investigation of specific, real world scenarios constituting the assigned project.

Catalysts learn to analyze and synthesize data in order to draw out valid, non-specific conclusions relevant to academia. When published, these findings contribute to the field of research (bottom right corner). Within industry, teaching equates to presenting specific findings to the firm through running workshops and developing design-led innovation tools. Early and continued stakeholder engagement and buy-in are essential, as by nature these findings seek to generate discussion, debate, and perhaps controversy, in order to challenge the way things have "always" been done.

In order to support and scaffold these catalysts from the day-to-day politics of the organization, and also to assist them in communicating their research findings to the rest of the organization, "design champions" were selected — usually nominated by the CEO or senior management representative of the company.26 Specifically within the context of this research, the design champion is positioned within the business "primarily as an advocacy role."27 Kyffin and Gardien28 refer to this role as a "passionate champion" — a role they believe increases the success of design-led change. The design champion is generally a middle management employee who reports directly to the company leaders. The design champion leverages his or her position and status within the company to advocate and disseminate design-led innovation within the executive management team, meeting the catalyst weekly to plan and discuss project progress.

Industry Demand = Educational Opportunity

Currently, many new courses are being developed to assist in growing design thinking skills within business programs worldwide.29 These programs-as well as design-driven courses-need to be expanded to focus on the gaps in organizational capabilities related to a combination of underlying knowledge, skills, and abilities. Tertiary institutions are well positioned to provide this new knowledge through

practice-based research activities.30 This approach to learning enables the awareness and capability gap to be addressed at once. In 2013, a new program based on design-led innovation was initiated at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. This program focuses on embedding design tools and processes within an organization, and using these processes with design leadership qualities to enable companies to create breakthrough innovation and achieve sustained growth.

The embedded Masters and PhD research program described here involved three stakeholders-the university, industry, and the student cohort. The program operated over a twelve-month (Master's of Research) and three-year period (PhD), with the focus of the program being the DIC's "embedded" nature, placed in a firm to work on a specific pilot project within the business. The key objectives of the design-led innovation program were (1) to explore the value of design-led innovation inside embedded business practices; (2) to pilot the adoption of a design-led innovation approach within a business through a specific project and (3) to collectively contribute to the development of a learning community, and share common challenges and strategies to overcome barriers to adoption of design-led innovation within Australian businesses.

Each week, the students spent three to four days in the firm and one to two days in the Design-led innovation Lab at the university. The lab provided a space for the researchers to explore design approaches, discuss research methods, host international expert guest speakers, share learning, explore new knowledge from theory to industry application, and test new approaches and tools. It also served as a place for firms to workshop ideas and projects collectively.

The difference between an internship program-a popular practice-and an embedded higher degree research cohort is that internships are often undertaken either as a component of an undergraduate degree, or shortly after graduation. These programs typically involve utilizing knowledge, skills, techniques, and processes that are well understood, and often take new knowledge to the firm, or extend their knowledge of how to conduct "business as usual." In the case of the embedded higher degree research catalyst cohort, graduate design students applied design-led innovation principles to the business operations of an organization, uncovering the opportunities, barriers, and challenges companies face in applying design principles and methods to all aspects of their business.

Through their research in separate workplaces, each student contributes their findings to the emerging discipline of design-led innovation. Through the process of capturing deep customer insights and translating them into narratives and stories, each catalyst facilitates the successful implementation of design-led innovation within their corporate culture. Given the complex, interwoven nature of an organization's culture, and the need to engage with employees at all levels within that firm-to uncover latent barriers to adoption-these projects require the higher level of research expertise that postgraduate students possess. The outcome of this program is new knowledge diffusion amongst the businesses as they absorb a design-led approach through the selected industry project.

Derived from the design-led innovation framework (Figure 2) a design-led approach was developed by the author, consisting of three integrated stages and ten sub-stages (Figure 4). These are:

• Dissect (understand, reveal and ask);

• Learn (propose, prototype, provoke and reframe); and

• Integrate (design, share and transform).

27 Wrigley and Bucolo, "New Organisational Leadership," 7.

28 Steven Kyffin and Paul Gardien, "Navigating the Innovation Matrix: An Approach to Design-Led Innovation," International Journal of Design 3, no. 1 (2009): 67.

29 Cara Wrigley and Kara Straker, "Design Thinking Pedagogy: The Educational Design Ladder," Innovations in Education and Teaching International (2015): 1-12, accessed October 23, 2016, http://www.tandfonline. com/doi/abs/10.1080/14703297. 20l5.ll082l4?src=recsys&jour-nalCode=riie20.

30 Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl, "Communities of Practice in Design Research," She Ji:The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 1, no. 1 (2015): 44-57, DOI: sheji.2015.07.002.

This overarching framework is a non-linear process, as illustrated by the broken lines in Figure 4, providing the mechanism by which, when applied, design may be used to transform and differentiate an organization. The extent to which the

Figure 4 Design-Led Innovation Approach.

31 Bob Dick, "Postgraduate Programs Using Action Research," The Learning Organization 9, no. 4 (2002): 159-70; Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt and Chad Perry, "Action Research within Organisations and University Thesis Writing," The Learning Organization 9, no. 4 (2002): 171-79.

32 Timothy Clark, Alexander Osterwalder, and Yves Pigneur, Business Model You: A One-Page Method for Reinventing Your Career (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2012).

33 Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke, "Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology," Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, no.

2 (2006): 77-101; Matthew B. Miles and A. Michael Huberman, Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994).

framework is applied is dependent upon the specifics of the organization-including size, industry sector, market position, and corporate culture-and was used to scaffold the projects inside the organizations. Each of the three stages consisted of a series of questions, activities, and tools (as shown in Table 1) to assist the catalysts in their intention to embed design-led innovation inside each of the organizations.

Using the design-led approach (Figure 4) as a foundation, research questions were posed surrounding the challenges, barriers, and opportunities-both perceived and actual-to adopting the approach within the respective organizations. The teaching content and approach to these projects is described and detailed in Table 1.

Driving questions the DIC sought to explore, and how this was achieved using specific tools and activities is outlined in the prescribed sections of the table.

Research Approach

Each of the seven catalysts spent a minimum twelve months (MDes) and maximum of twenty-four months (PhD) conducting their own action research project 31 within the various organizations (detailed in Table 2). In order to answer the research aims of this paper, three different sets of data were collected:

1) semi-structured interviews with seven design champions,

2) semi-structured interviews with seven design innovation catalysts, and

3) interviews with seven design innovation catalysts.

The first and second set of semi-structured interviews were conducted with design champions inside the organizations, as well as the DICs, to assess capabilities and perceived value within the organization. Each was questioned in regards to the desired capabilities-a combination of underlying knowledge, skills and abilities — of this new "Design Innovation Catalyst." Participants were also asked to discuss their role and capacities to fulfill that role, as well as the perceived value both held for the firm, the industry, and the university. Each individual interview lasted approximately one hour. The third set of data collected pertained to a series of questions framed by the "Business Model You" canvas developed by Clark, Osterwalder and Pigneur,32 which was used to assess the DIC value, capabilities, and resources required to achieve the objectives of the program outlined earlier in the paper. This allowed for exploration of nine main probing concepts-value provided, interactions, benefits and costs, capabilities, and role of the DIC.

A thematic analysis33 was used to generate usable results pertaining to

capabilities and value despite differences in each catalyst's experience and approach to implementation. This triangulation of analysis validated the thematic analysis,34 and provided a richer understanding of the participant responses. This analysis produced six (6) overarching capabilities informing the design innovation catalyst engagement model.

Capabilities of the Design Innovation Catalyst

The following six capabilities were derived from the embedded design-led innovation research program. They consist of the following: designer knowledge and skills, business knowledge and understanding, cognitive abilities, customer and stakeholder centricity, personal qualities, and research knowledge and skills.

Design Knowledge and Skills

Inherent design knowledge and problem solving skills are an integral part of the catalyst role. The seven DICs were graduated designers-industrial designers and architects-and as such the core visualization talents instilled in them enabled fluid communication between the various disciplines/departments of the organizations. Design knowledge, skills, tools, abilities, and experience supported DIC leadership of problem solving sessions, and helped DICs to facilitate audience participation in design content generation, as opposed to a non-design trained catalyst-usually a graphic illustrator able to record what is being voiced in the project, yet unable to personally shape content. Designers have trust in the design process over the outcome, which can be startling for those accustomed to pre-deter-mining outcomes before a process has begun. Their knowledge base and experience allowed the DICs to speak from a position of authority regarding design and the overall process. An example of this was found in DIC D, who visualized the issues surrounding the internal politics of the organization to try to facilitate a mediated conversation. Results pointed to realigning the organization away from production line results to a more purpose-driven way of operating.

DIC key capabilities include:

• Design visualization, which enables communication between various disciplines and stakeholders in a firm; and

• Visual and verbal creation, manipulation, facilitation, and implementation of design tools and processes.

Business Knowledge and Understanding

The DIC must have a basic understanding of key business theory and application concepts, including strategy, business models, new product development cycles, organizational change, entrepreneurship, innovation, and marketing. This basic understanding of business process allowed the DIC to participate in conversations regarding business drivers-such a conversation would not have been possible without it, as these business practices and concerns span all areas, levels, and departments of the company. More specifically, using design knowledge to experiment and prototype with traditional business frameworks-such as a business model-requires DICs to demonstrate their business expertise. This was evidenced in DIC B, where a new business model concept was designed based on a value proposition comparison of competitors, and a visual mapping of these various offerings into a typology matrix to visualize complex gaps in the market. Afterwards, the DIC visualized the organization's new business model concept to communicate the idea at every level of the organization, regardless of rank, role or department domain.

DIC business capabilities include:

• Knowledge and understanding of key business concepts-including strategy,

34 Michael Quinn Patton, "Qualitative Interviewing," in Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, 3rd ed. (2002): 344-47.

Table 1. Design-led innovation stages.

DLI Stage Sub-Stage

Driving Question


Design Tools


Understand What business - What is your company's purpose, or what is your "why?" are you in? - What is your value proposition?

- What differentiates you from your competitors?

- What do you do on a daily basis that reinforces this point of difference?

- What activities could you do less of that do NOT reinforce this point of difference?

- How would you describe your innovation process and portfolio?

- What is the biggest problem your market is facing?

- How have you addressed this through innovation in your company?

- What are the different activities your company undertakes in the three horizons model?

- The business model canvas (analysis)

- Activity map (analysis)

- Identify your thinking style and cultural thinking style

- 3 horizons model

- Innovation audit (incremental, platform or radical)

- Competitor analysis

- SWOT analysis

- Dynamic SWOT analysis

Reveal Who are your - Describe your customers and or stakeholders. - Listening skill development tool

stakeholders? - Who are they (name, age, profession)? - Journey map

- Why have they chosen to purchase or engage with your - Emotional touch point timeline

product and or services? - Persona

- What are some of the biggest issues they encounter in - What market segmentation data

their daily lives? do you have?

- What do they value? - Demographics and psychometrics

- What do they need and want? - A day in the life of....

- What are their aspirations and routines? - Storyboarding

- How do you engage with customers?

- When was the last time you engaged with a real


Do you have - Describe your strategy.

a matching - Is everyone in the organization aware and in alignment strategy? of the same strategy?

- Do the internal stakeholders know and or share the same strategy vision?

- How does your strategy align to your customers?

- Do your current product and or service offerings help solve their biggest issue?

- What sort of difference do you make to their lives?

- Is your company still relevant?

- Constantly question and seek out contradictions

- What is your why?

- Golden circles

- Is your company united in their golden circles?

- Activity map comparison

- Business model canvas analysis

Propose What are the - How do you shift your company's perspective from a

proposed YOU to a THEM approach?

assumptions? - Describe their issues, concerns, aspirations and values.

- Test any assumptions about your customers by failing fast and building upon it with insights

- Can you map your assumptions of customers and stakeholder values and insights with your current company strategy?

- Build your personas into various narratives for various stakeholders, based on the all the internal information you have as well as any assumptions.

Prototype What are - Prototype your narrative with your stakeholder to

the valued gather deep customer insights.

insights? - This is done through the storytelling/narrative

technique followed by a thematic analysis.

- Build upon your assumptions with valued insights.

- Persona

- Build idea maturity rather than absolutes

- Narratives

- Deep customer insights

- 5 Whys

- Value chain analysis

- Stakeholder journey mapping

- Succeed early by failing fast

- Examples of business model canvas models

- Narrative

- Value proposition assessment

- Co-design

- Thematic analysis

- Persona

(Continued on next page...)

Table 1. (Continued)

DLI Stage Sub-Stage

Driving Question


Design Tools

Learn Provoke

What new - If you iterate the (propose, prototype, provoke) process,

meanings have what patterns of meaning are generated?

you created? - Do the new propositions uncover new meanings?

- What are some of the common patterns of meaning that emerge?

- Can you validate the meaning of the new offering by provoking your customers' true emotions?

- How can the use of dead reckoning guide the process?

- Customer interviews

- Thematic analysis

- Value proposition assessment

- Emotional design

Re-frame What new - What are some solutions to the common patterns of

opportunities meaning?

can you provide - Are you constantly challenging and seeking value to? alternatives?

- Prototype and evaluate against strategy.

- What are the alternative product and or service offerings that incorporate the new customer valued insights?

- Do they reflect the company strategy?

- Are they bold enough?

- How can we do things differently?

- What new business models are possible?

- What are the new propositions?

- Emotional touch point timeline

- Re-frame against customer insights

- What is the new value proposition?

- Compare activity maps

- Compare business model canvas

Integrate Design

What are the - Design new solutions to capitalize on these new product opportunities and maximize your capabilities. and service - What is the revised business model for this new value

offering? proposition?

- How different is it to the existing business model?

- How different is this to the existing strategy?

- What will need to change?

- What new capabilities do we need?

- Which ones are no longer relevant?

- How do you ensure we deliver value at each touch point?

- How do you map this to all aspects of the business?

- Design new solutions to the new found problems

- Contextualize findings within the business

- New Activity Map

- New Business Model Canvas

- Narratives

Share How do you - How do you share your solutions with the company? - Pitching

collectively - What are all the blockers from their perspective on why - Visual communication

execute on this CANNOT be executed? - Design champions inside the

this? - What key activities, assets and relationships do your organization

company require to overcome these blockers? - Co-design (internally, and then

- What capabilities do you require and what can you use? externally)

- How do you overcome the blockers and co-design the - Narrative of the future of the

solution with all stakeholders? relevant business sector/s

- How do you pitch internally? - Bring people along internally

- How do you sell the idea or process from the bottom up

or from the top down?

- What are the challenges with communication thins?

- How would you communicate it?

Transform How do you - How will you educate and execute the cultural change execute and in the company required to facilitate this process? integrate these - By learning from the process and encouraging leanings across exploration in your employees your company will be the entire most responsive to change.

organization? - How will you disseminate this common language across the company? - How will you ensure constant challenging and refinement of understanding?

- Activity map: Today and tomorrow

- Business model for tomorrow

- Customer of tomorrow

- How do you get there?

Table 2. Design Innovation Catalyst cohort. (Horizontally continued on next page...)

DIC MDes or Design Catalyst Role PhD

Design Champion Embedded in Company Focus Role Industry Sector

Company Engagement Purpose

PhD Catalyst worked to integrate

design at all stages of the innovation pipeline to ensure the firm was able to encourage and reward stakeholders for creativity by providing the design skills to articulate their ideas.




Transportation Aviation support

Apply DLI to three (3) projects to help build design capacity in the organization

PhD Role title was Project Officer-Customer-led Innovation.

Role responsibility was to identify and leverage customer insights into alternative and innovative service, product and business model opportunities.

Marketing Manager


Aged care provider

Seeking assistance to innovate for growth in a dynamic environment

MDes Role was to demonstrate the DLI process by facilitating the transformation of deep customer insights into business models.

R&D Manager


Energy production and distribution

Seeking assistance to innovate for growth in dynamic environment

MDes Knowledge and tool broker

between academic theory and practical firm expertise.

Role was a facilitating catalyst within the firm to encourage re-thinking competitiveness and challenging the status quo.

Company Director Manufacturing

Seeking assistance with sustainable business model and direction

Product focused, and Supplier for Retail Trade

MDes Role was independent, self-di- Company Director Manufacturing Product and Seeking assistance to

rected researcher embedded technology services; innovate for growth in

within the research and develop- Business-to-business dynamic environment ment department.

MDes The design catalyst was to apply the design-led approach to generate buy-in of the value of using design thinking to create better business model propositions. Positioned as part of the marketing and communications team, the Product Manager and Marketing Manager were key stakeholders in the research.

R&D Manager


Specialized product; Supplier to retail and consumers

Seeking assistance with new product line emerging

MDes To lead multiple DLI projects

within the firm, as mechanisms to inform the larger customer support business model.

Marketing Manager


Specialized product; Supplier to retail and consumers

New Product development to pilot DLI approach

Value Delivered


A capability to quickly visualize and test ideas with passengers and stakeholders and gather deep customer insights.

Developing business opportunities through design propositions whilst aligning to the firm's vision for the future.

sign-led Innovation in Strengthening Key Partnerships within an Australian Airport," in Design for Business: Volume 3, ed. Gjoko Muratovski (Chicago: University of Chicago Press/ Intellect Books, 2015), 42-61.

Rebecca Price and Cara Wrigley, "Deign and a Deep Customer Insight Approach to Innovation," Journal of International Consumer Marketing 28, no. 2 (2016): 92-105; Rebecca A. Price, Cara Wrigley, and Karla Straker, "Not Just What They Want, But Why They Want It: Traditional Market Research to Deep Customer Insights," Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal 18, no. 2 (2015): 230-48; Rebecca Price, Cara Wrigley, and Alexander Dreiling, "Are You on Board? The Role of De-

Visualize empathy through the customers' per- Erez Nusem, Cara Wrigley and Judy Matthews, "Exploring Aged Care Business Models: A spective of the larger issue at hand, rather than Typological Study," Ageing and Society, First View (2015): 1-24;

just the interaction points with the company. Erez Nusem, Aimee Defries, and Cara Wrigley, "Applying Design-led Innovation in a Not-

for-Profit Aged Care Provider to Create Shared Value," in Design for Business: Volume 3, ed. Gjoko Muratovski (Chicago: University of Chicago Press/Intellect Books, 2015), 172-93; Erez Nusem, Cara Wrigley, and Judy Matthews, "Developing Design Capability in Non-Profit Organizations," Design Issues 33, no. 1 (2017): forthcoming.

Mapping of key drivers and stakeholders of the Tim Stevenson, Cara Wrigley, and Judy Matthews, "A Design Approach to Innovation in the business as a refection and planning tool. Australian Energy Industry," Journal of Design, Business & Society 2, no. 1 (2016): 49-70.

The qualitative process of gaining deep customer insights; results and evidence of lowered barriers to performance of such tasks.

Anja Krabye, Judy Matthews, Cara Wrigley, and Sam Bucolo, "From Production to Purpose: Using Design-led Innovation to Build Strategic Potential in a Family-Owned SME," in proceedings of the IEEE Tsinghua International Design Management Symposium: Design-Driven Business Innovation, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Shenzhen, China (IEEE, 2013): 37-46.

Increased awareness, knowledge, and practice in strategic design thinking; created a platform for further development of competitive practice.

Provided new tools, approaches, and reframing perspectives.

A facilitator of change inside the business in order to change from being business as usual to being value and future oriented.

Main value delivered was in a new customer en- Rohan Doherty, Cara Wrigley, Judy H. Matthews, and Sam Bucolo, "Climbing the Design gagement. Model where customers were utilized Ladder: Step by Step," Revista D.: Design, Educafdo, Sociedade e Sustentabilidade 7, no. 2

in the re-framing of problems and co-design a (2015): 60-82;

solution with. Rohan Doherty, Cara Wrigley, and Judy H. Matthews, "Understanding, Utilizing and Valuing

Design Tools in Business," in Design for Business: Volume 3, ed. Gjoko Muratovski (Chicago: University of Chicago Press/Intellect Books, 2015), 90-109.

Permanent employment to continue to deploy design thinking tools and techniques, in order to build stronger relationships with customers and various stakeholders in the value chain.

More customer attention is being placed on the earlier phases of new product development to ensure greater, more sustainable value propositions and design briefs that are strongly defined.

Erica Pozzey, Cara Wrigley, and Sam Bucolo, "Unpacking the Opportunities for Change within a Family Owned Manufacturing SME: a Design-led Innovation Case Study," in Leading Innovation through Design: Proceedings of the DMI2012 International Research Conference, ed. Erik Bohemia, Jeanne Liedtka, and Alison Rieple (Boston: DMI, 2012), 841-55;

Erica Pozzey, Sam Bucolo, and Cara Wrigley, "Influencing Innovation in SME's: From

Designer to Transitional Engineer," in Proceedings of the Australian Centre (ACE) for Entre-preneurship Research Exchange Conference (Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology, 2013), 1-13.

Saw a fundamental shift in its thinking. The Peter Townson, Judy Matthews, and Cara Wrigley, "Outcomes from Applying Design-led Infirm now discusses innovation across all aspects novation in an Australian Manufacturing Firm," Technology Innovation Management Review of business, and is doing so without being forced 6, no. 6 (2016): 49-58. by economic conditions. This is in part attributed to the constant engagement by the firm with DLI on a day-to-day basis.

new product development, incremental to radical innovation processes, organizational change and entrepreneurial awareness;

• Competency with business discourse typically used in conjunction with future business growth management;

• An ability to identify business drivers spanning all areas, levels, and departments of an organization;

• An ability to challenge the established assumptions and status quo of the business; and

• Understanding of business process and modeling concepts in a variety of industries.

Cognitive Abilities

The ability to think independently, originally, and outside the box-inherent in designers-is paramount for a DIC, allowing them to employ creative problem solving skills collectively. Being able to envisage and understand multifaceted, complex problems from multiple perspectives and maneuver around problem constraints is a necessity. DICs are capable of translating ideas from the abstract to the concrete quickly using prototyping skills, can re-frame problems spontaneously, and are able to map ideas with underlying value propositions against the strategy of the firm. These DICs were thrown into complex, unknown business environments, and were required to be adaptable and resilient. Building upon this, their role was to challenge many senior staff regarding traditional ways of working, and also confront assumptions many organizations held in regards to their customers. This required the capacity to converge and diverge quickly and seamlessly on ideas to meet customer needs. An example of this can be found in DIC A, where the research context was the complex and highly-regulated transportation sector. Addressing declining product sales was eventually re-framed in the form of a regulatory assistive device. The project involved convincing the organization to invest in and act upon the (qualitative) word of 60 customers, rather than a (quantitative) report from 60,000 customers.

Key capabilities include:

• An ability to think creatively, independently, and originally;

• An ability to employ creative problem solving skills collectively,

• The capacity to translate ideas from the abstract to the concrete quickly, using prototyping skills;

• An ability to re-frame problems spontaneously;

• An ability to map ideas with their underlying value propositions against the strategy of the firm;

• Adaptability, and capacity to converge and diverge quickly and seamlessly on ideas; and

• An ability to challenge the fundamental problems and constraints that are assumed by companies.

Customer and Stakeholder Centricity

Designers are familiar with being customer centric, as this is intertwined in the design process. However, organizations quickly lose sight of the customer when they are caught in the internal processes and politics of bringing a product to market. The DIC's role was to uncover latent customer needs and values, and bring them to the attention of the people at the top making decisions around the future launch of products or services. The ability to build genuine emotional empathy for customers through the engagement process was evident in all seven DICs. This em-pathetic approach to understating customers-using deep customer insights-was developed though collaborative ideation with all internal stakeholders involved.

One example of this was DIC G, who renamed his department "customer-inspired design," as the challenge the company faced was how to develop deep customer insights when customers are spread across continents, and there is an obvious physical and cultural understanding barrier.

Key capabilities include:

• A shared understanding and vision for growth, and a true passion for the organization;

• Belief in customer values and genuine emotional empathy for stakeholders of the business through the engagement process; and

• An ability to prototype and experiment new business model, product and service concepts collaboratively with all stakeholders.

Personal Qualities

The ability to stimulate engagement in stakeholders is a strong skill that took time to develop in some of the DICs. To draw out rich information that encouraged and inspired others to get involved in the design approach and provoke responses was found necessary for successful collaboration. The DICs navigated and then facilitated their way through market disruptions, platform burning, and family conflict (family owned businesses). It was in handling these particular situations that the personal capabilities of the DIC became vital. An open mind and continued optimism was evidenced by DIC G, who continuously framed every problem as a possible opportunity for the organization during an extremely large industry downturn period. The internal motivation to help the organization as well as an authentic drive to learn was also found to be evident in DIC C, despite being only one of 4,654 staff at the time.

Key capabilities include:

• An ability to stimulate, provoke, encourage, inspire, and motivate others;

• The capacity to facilitate disruptive change internally, from both a project and a holistic view of the organization;

• The presentation of a cheerful and enthusiastic persona, as well as an authentic drive to learn; and

• The ability to possess and maintain an open mind-a kind of perpetual opti-mism-and the ability to see every problem as a possible opportunity.

Research Knowledge and Skills

The skills of a researcher allow the DIC to speak from a position of authority-they represent the data, which is the voice of the customer in many cases. The DICs presented customers' unique, latent needs-via rigorous research methods-and then facilitated the co-design process alongside customers to solve their problem. Developing an ability to investigate, gather, absorb, and analyze data independently as well as collectively was vital in order to present an unbiased case to the organizations. Over the duration of the program the DICs aptitude to generate results, reflect on findings, and disseminate new knowledge accordingly in order to deliver strategic sustainable change through an organization grew. Such skills were not only vital in order to achieve the postgraduate thesis component but also to understand, synthesize and critique such findings into useful applications in the organization allowing other organizations that could also learn from such research.

Key capabilities include:

• An ability to source credible, relevant knowledge-and understand, synthesize, and critique such findings towards useful applications within the organization;

• Belief in and commitment to the design-led innovation process over the outcome;

• An ability to investigate, gather, absorb, and analyze data independently, as well as collectively; and

• The aptitude to generate results, reflect on findings, and disseminate new knowledge accordingly, to deliver strategic sustainable change through an organization.

Value of the Design Innovation Catalyst

The perceived value delivered by the DICs was "providing design innovation knowledge in order to facilitate and assist businesses to remain relevant for the future by better understanding their customers and strategy" (see details in Table 3). Students saw themselves as knowledge distributors who helped companies remain relevant-during a time of economic uncertainty-through the deployment of a design-led approach to innovation. All the students saw themselves as valuable internal assets to the companies-offering specialized knowledge, tools and pro-cesses-by demonstrating a design-led approach that would then be piloted and dispersed productively amongst all employees of the firm. The design champions described them collectively as knowledge disseminators, change catalysts, and organizational culture reformists.

Of additional value was their ability to bring a unique resource to the firm by bridging the gap between industry and academia, allowing for more unbiased critical thinking to mature, whilst aiming to understand and translate the human complexity of the business. Motivating traditionally separate departments in the organizations to work together to solve common and complex problems was especially vital to each project's overall success.

It was also felt that fostering a deeper understanding of customers was a large part of the DICs' value offering. Learning empathy for their customers and increasing their understanding of the future and latent needs of prospective customers was particularly valued. Furthermore providing the companies with more "emotionally aware" innovation tools, processes, and strategies to better connect with their customers-including the use of a deep customer insight process unique to the design-led approach-was a valued component of their offering.

Another added value was the careful building, orchestrating, conducting, and facilitating of change, using a non-threating approach-that of a postgraduate research student, rather than an employee-allowed for cultural shifts to occur and grow more organically from within. These new perspectives, frameworks, and methodologies for innovation postulated a value platform from which to leverage new business model designs and opportunities.

Design Innovation Catalyst Engagement Model

This embedded cohort model of engagement-the Design Innovation Catalyst Engagement Model-is depicted in Figure 5. It demonstrates the value offering from the DIC to the industry organization. The model was created to experiment with design in a new way- different to previous product or service design roles within business-which supports an organization's need to remain relevant and drive top line growth. Through this engagement model, DICs can learn, build, strengthen, and apply the capabilities reported previously in this paper.

This new approach was set up in-house, to conduct innovation that came directly from the customers latent and future needs. Customers played a key role in this process, and carried the same influence as the design champion in the engagement model, which better enabled DICs to navigate complexity, distribute knowledge within the organization, and disrupt assumptions about who their customers

Figure 5 Design Innovation Catalyst Engagement Model.

are and who they will be in the future. The deployment of the DIC through this engagement model provided benefits not only to the organization, but also created new knowledge surrounding these new approaches and engagements to the benefit of businesses and researchers alike.

In sum, this paper illustrates a new approach to the traditional role of design and designers within businesses, coins the term "Design Innovation Catalyst," and defines this emerging profession. Further, by providing insight into the projects undertaken by such a catalyst, the paper suggests detailed ways in which educators might envisage training such individuals. This paper contributes to a newly-emerging body of literature surrounding how design can strategically inform and add value to businesses globally, and how we educate the Design Innovation Catalysts of the future to rise to such a challenge.

Table 3. Valuing the Design Innovation Catalyst. (Horizontally continued on next page...)

DIC Value Provided

(How they helped)

Customers (Who they helped)

Customer Relationship (How they interacted)


(How they delivered value)

A - Design-led Innovation expertise to help drive innovation based on customer needs and business vision

- Industry partner

- Suppliers

- Customers

- DLI cohort

- Supervisor

- Face-to-face

- Emails

- Mobile calls

- Meetings

- Workshops

- Networks

- Co-Design

- Workshops

- Design champion

- Provide a framework/methodology for - Industry partners - Visuals - Design champion

innovation through leveraging customer - Customers - Verbally

insights throughout a new business - DLI cohort - Interviews

model - Focus groups

- Narrative testing

C - Build and communicate business function - Industry partner overview; - Industry leaders

- Link separate parts of the business; - Project leaders

- Understand and communicate the customer of the future

- Face-to-face - Personal relationships

- Interpersonal - Build rapport

- Group facilitation - Meaningful conversations

- Being the bridge between industry and academia in order to understand and think critically about the complexities of the business

- Industry partner

- Challenging

- Mediating

- Questioning

- Supporting

- Providing new knowledge and customer insights

- Embedded practice

- Outside in perspective across the business

- A new external, informed, theory based - Industry partner - Face-to-face facilitation - Embedded

innovation perspective - Conversations - Working alongside staff

- Workshops day-to-day

- Presentations

- Knowledge distributors to help - Industry partner - Face-to-face - Workshops

companies reach innovation through a - Customers - Conferences

deeper understanding of their customers

- Help Australian companies stay relevant through design-led innovation

- Industry partner

- Personal assistance

- Personable by listening and advocating for their customers

- Pre-existing networks

- Face-to-face marketing

- In-direct marketing

Benefits (What DIC gets) Costs (What DIC gives) Key Partners (Who helps DIC) Key Activities (What DIC does) Key Resources (Who you are and what you have)

- Opportunities networks - Direction - Making my own mark - New knowledge - Satisfaction - Time - Energy - Enthusiasm - Fresh face - Different perspective - Attentive listener - University - DLI cohort - Supervisor - Literature - Previous research - Use design to give customers a voice - Develop deep customer insights which inform the development of innovation projects - Competitive desire - Drive not to be mediocre - Life experiences

- Knowledge - Explore opportunity to implement methodology in a real world setting - Opportunity to explore new ideas and theories - Energy - Time - Expertise - Design champion - Supervisor - Design champion - Teach tools - Disseminate knowledge - Generate insights - Question assumptions - Generate visual communication tools - Visual illustration skills - Design knowledge

- Impact and resilience - New learning - Helping others achieve more - Business achieve its goals - Supervisor - DLI cohort - Relevant authorities - Industry partner - Staff - Communicate - Collect and collate research findings - Analyze and devise process to innovate - Extrovert, positivist leader - Design skills from industry - Small business experience - Inquisitive mind

- Facilitation of Co-design

- Industry experience - New DIC role - Connections - Networks - Improved communication skills - Time - Energy - Effort - Mental exhaustion - Emotional investment - DLI cohort - Supervisors - Design champion - University - Draw from authorities in the field to disseminate cutting edge research to the firm in order for them to be more competitive - Teach, learn, examine, ideate, collaborate and observe - Critical thinking - Design skills - Reflective nature - Visual, verbal skills

- Experience - Informed research - Novel research - Commitment - Effort - DLI cohort - Supervisors - Staff - Industry partner - Design champion - Observe - Develop insights - Propose, facilitate learning - Disseminate knowledge - Strong theoretical background - Blank canvas - No prior experience

- Exposure - Experience - Connections - Time - Energy - DLI cohort - Industry partner - University - Supervisor - Distribute knowledge and know-how - Deep design knowledge and skills

- Comprehensive business knowledge - Company trust (not just as employee) - Entrepreneurial nous - Links between forward thinking business concepts and high level academic learning - DLI cohort - Supervisors - Design champions - Thirst for knowledge - Driven by innovation - Practical application of postgraduate research - Entrepreneurial experience across broad industry sectors