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ID Researchers Demonstrate How Design Can Offer the Most Value to Organizations

February 3, 2020

ID's Lead with Purpose Report Reveals the Role of Design in Organizational Success

IIT Institute of Design (ID) has released its Lead with Purpose report, which seeks to reveal the functional role design can play in achieving business and organizational success.­­ The report was jointly initiated by industry partners Capital One, Ford, Google, Philips, Salesforce, and VMLY&R.

Lead with Purpose: Design’s Central Role in Realizing Executive Vision, is the summation of more than 50 one-on-one, 60-minute interviews with design and business professionals in the United States conducted by ID students and faculty in 2019.

Nearly all professionals today recognize the burgeoning popularity of design thinking and generally accept that successful organizations need design. Yet most organizations have yet to make a place for design that engages its full power, not only at the initiative level, but also at the enterprise level.
—Denis Weil, ID Dean

ID interviewed subjects ranging from executives to mid-tier managers and directors from a variety of industries, including packaged foods, manufacturing, health care, financial services, and real estate. Some 60 percent of respondents had a level of design training or knowledge, while the remaining 40 percent didn’t have that knowledge but worked directly with their organization’s design practice.

Many interviewees identified the breakdown between planning and implementation as the biggest barrier to implementing meaningful change in their organizations.

Seizing on this important finding, the report explains actionable plans for how organizations can use design to bridge the gap between “Intent,” the organization’s vision, and “Effect,” its desired outcome.

Strategy thinking within organizations often sets the intent—the vision. It tells us where we want to go and what we want to have happen at a high level, but the strategic plans give us no roadmap for getting there. This is where design comes in. Designers inherently possess these core skills that support organizations to make the vision of an organization tangible, create space for alignment around that vision, and advocate for and specify ways to tie vision to organizational values.
—Brianna Sylver-Galvao, ID Adjunct Professor and Study Lead

Researchers extrapolated from interviewees the skills that can help organizations along as they navigate the “Intent-to-Effect Pathway”: storytelling, prototyping, foresight, facilitation, collaboration, and systems thinking. They also outlined four key design roles for the future.

Ultimately, Lead with Purpose proposes a more integrated approach to design within organizations, and reads as a playbook for employers on how to best leverage design for organizational success. In doing so, it solidifies the value design can bring during what the report calls “design’s coming of age.”

“The design discipline is in this morphing state, where we’re redefining ourselves as professionals in order to achieve greater and greater positive impact in organizations and the world,” says Julia Rochlin (MDes 2020), a student researcher. “The maturity level of the discipline depends on how design is being scaled, communicated, and translated into business opportunities at the leadership level.”

Read the full report.