Demonstrating the value of design in business is key to positioning, growing investment, and getting design into the strategic activities of companies. Unfortunately many designers and creatives find it hard to expertly assess and put a value on design. This workshop by Robb Ziegler & Deb Mrazek aimed to help design practitioner with an approach to identify (assess) and effectively communicate (express) their design value, impact and contributions for business success.

Evaluating Design Maturity

Measuring organizational capabilities and maturity level is an important concept for change and improvement. The maturity level provides us with insights into the strong areas where the organization excels, as well as the weaker ones to work in order to prioritize investments for maximum impact. However, given design function operates differently by industry, it is challenging to benchmark design into standardized measurement metrics.

In 2013, Design Management Institute (DMI) introduced Design Value Scorecard and Design Maturity Matrix as a simple mapping tool to assist design managers identify their organization’s level of design maturity across three functional areas of business value:

  • Tactical value with design as a service. In this area, design is involved in aesthetic or functional development, as well as delivery of products, services, and communications.
  • Organizational value with design a catalyst for organizational change. In this area, design is involved as connector or integrator of systems and processes to deliver more-integrated customer experiences that link parts of an organization that were never previously connected.
  • Strategic value which by making design and design thinking a core competence that could be used to reframe position and approach for business strategy and models.

Such matrix can then be used as foundation for setting initiatives and achieving future improvement goals, measuring progress / evolution of organizations’ skills and capabilities from one stage of maturity to another over time and potentially benchmarking with other organizations.

After mapping and contextualizing organization design activities using Design Maturity Matrix, Robb and Deb then introduced participants with their framework to identify, develop and measure organization’s Value Metrics process and communicate to key stakeholders on what design can do for them.

Assessing Design’s Value

To grow design maturity and investment, we need to address the inevitable demand to systematically evaluate its value and return in the context of the business. This process can be accomplished by looking at 3 key areas: design role, design strategy and stakeholders.

Design Role

This step is about understanding what business value can be conveyed and visualise how the team contribute to the business success. Here we use Value Producing Role from APQC Process Classification Framework (Operating Processes, Management and Support Services) and map it with 4 category of values from Balanced Scorecard:

  • Financial performance,
  • Brand, Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
  • Process efficiency and effectiveness
  • Knowledge, Core Competencies and Innovation Capability

Design Strategy

This step is about setting priorities in design’s strategy by knowing more about business priorities and design context: understanding what value that design team want to express, how their priorities align and contribute to larger business picture. As such, we must look into:

  • Business priorities (e.g. activities, expertise and things the business invest in) and value drivers (e.g. growth target through revenue and profit, operational efficiency through savings & productivity through, and business resiliency),
  • Design team priorities
  • Design team aspiration
  • “Jobs to be done” using Design Value System

Design Stakeholders

This step is about identifying values that key stakeholder will care about: knowing what’s important to whom and why. This is accomplished by identifying key decision makers that are needed to support design’s team works, looking into their goals, motivations and interests (e.g. what they are accountable or responsible for? measured on or affect their compensation? improve their status amongst peers and superiors?). Afterwards, we will need to derive value proposition that appeals to them (win-win benefits) and get their buy-in to implement design measurement system.

Expressing Design’s values

Conveying designs values effectively is paramount in order to influence perception and grow strategic role of design in organization. In this process, we are focusing design values and developing pitch using stories and language of business that will set the stage for persuasion or call to actions.

Design’s Focus

This step is about integrating analysis by working on the intersection of roles, strategies and stakeholders to establish design’s team areas of focus. From the focus area, we use value delivery mapping and mind mapping techniques to establish “Business Value Flows” to align resources, activities and impact. Afterwards, we identify possible predictor (early indicator) metrics, rank and determine viability metrics that matter which can be collected with low-medium efforts (e.g already being collected, within the system the business owns, or using proxies for hard to collect metrics). Finally, we design a system describing what metrics being measured, who (partners, expectation and what they get for participating), how (accuracy, format, how much), when (event or frequency) and where (sample vs actual, local vs global, proxies).

Design’s Pitch

In this final step, we looked into ways to pitch and present design value metric system created for maximum impact. We developed 30-60-90 day plan which described activities such as inform and enlist stakeholders identified (data owners, key decision makers, partners and dependencies), implement metric visualisation to communicate results (create compelling stories through numbers, graphic and infographics) and decide how to modify / refine the system further.