« Design Value – A Strategy for Business Success
A completely new perspective for looking at design and business is now provided by the book « Design Value – A Strategy for Business Success », written by Dr. Peter Zec and Professor Burkhard Jacob. In this interview, Dr. Zec and Professor Jacob explain in detail the concept of the book.
What does design value mean?
Zec: Design value is a strategic instrument for business management. Economic values by themselves, as important as they may be, are not sufficient to manage a company. Entrepreneurial thinking and value-oriented management are not just about increasing turnover and profit, but also always have an eye on the values that precede turnover and profit. This, for instance, includes the innovative strength of a company, the quality and the customer benefit. All these values are reflected in the design of a product as well as the company’s communication – or not.
Jacob: Unfortunately, values such as innovation, quality and customer benefit cannot be measured in numbers. The reason for this lies in the dogma of business economics to limit the purpose of a company to profit maximisation. Obviously, the pursuit of profit is a principle which motivates the entrepreneur, because the profit as part of the value creation accrues to the owners of the enterprise. The profit, however, is preceded by the questions of how the entrepreneur can create this value and how the company can survive in the long term.
Zec: The aim of the design value is therefore above all to achieve a better understanding in the economy of the chances and risks that come with design, because to date design at best shows up as a cost factor in a company’s balance sheet and not under earnings as part of the proceeds.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
Jacob: The red dot design award enables us to accurately trace the developments in the international design economy. Every year the contest receives more entries while the quality standards are rising simultaneously. But even though the quality standards are growing continuously and design is also one of the most important criteria for consumers’ buying decisions, investments in design are all too often still misunderstood as expenses. This is an unsatisfactory situation for designers as well as design managers because they know exactly about the added value that stems from design. At times the differences are so large that one could almost talk about two separate worlds. On the one side are the « hard » facts of the economy: prices, costs, investments – on the other side the « soft » facts of design: quality, use, benefit.
If both sides had the opportunity to come to an understanding about the value of design, then this would be an advantage for everyone. The economic added value of good design has previously not been measurable and thus not been utilisable for strategic design management. Therefore we have looked for a way to also « translate » the value added through design into numbers. »