In-house Incites: Design Management Say What?!


AIGA MetroNorth, in partnership with Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD), is hosting an evening event on design management. But what exactly is design management? If you look at the panelists, the event description and MetroNorth’s mission, you might be inclined to assume design management is the strategic application of design thinking practices to branding (both product and corporate) and other organizational initiatives. Basically, managing the design needs of an organization.


If you research other design management events or conferences such as Cella’s Beyond the Creative 3 recently held in Arlington VA or HOW’s upcoming InHOWse Managers conference in June, you’d most likely surmise that design management refers to managing a design team, its processes and procedures and how that team is integrated into a larger organization.


You could compare the Stanford to Pratt’s design business program to SASD’s mission and come up with equally divergent definitions of design management. While semantics and splitting hairs over words and titles can be academic and irrelevant, I believe in this instance, clarification of what design management truly means and how it is practiced is critical to the expansion of design as a strategic business practice. If the design community can’t figure out what it represents and means, our business colleagues who we’re trying to get to embrace design as a critical contributor to their success, surely won’t.