How many different roles are there for design managers in the industry?

It was very good to see the beginnings of some serious discussion and debate as to the role of design management at the seminar arranged and organised by Ray Holland (De Montfort University) and chaired by Naomi Gornick (Brunel University) at the New Designers Show last week.

There were excellent presentations from industry, Xerox, BT, the Design Council and James Woudhuysen, supported by a panel of luminaries which clearly illustrated the wide diversity and divisions of the role of the design manager in industry, hence my confusion. There appeared to be at least four design management activities from the business management of design, an MBA approach, to the strategic and corporate design manager, the project driven manager and the innovation centred manager.

Whether these are essentially all the same role or how these might be identified as differing roles is still a question that is open to debate.

I hope that this is the beginning of a clarification through further seminars to develop a total understanding of design management in the design profession.

Professor Peter Isherwood

Head of Design

Brunel University

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