The Sorrell Foundation’s Young Design scheme places schoolchildren as clients and design students as consultants in a bid to improve the design of schools. What other organisations could benefit from putting end-users at the heart of design consultation in this way?

There isn’t a brand on the planet that wouldn’t advocate listening to its customers, whether it is Tesco, the BBC or a local council. However, too often marketing experts turn to external research groups; organisations have thousands of knowledgeable customers in their offices every day – their employees. High-performing organisations recognise this as a powerful way of capturing insight from their most important brand champions – their people.

Julian Grice, Managing director, The Team

It’s hard to believe any organisation would benefit from not putting the end-user at the heart of the design process. In fact, a process that does not have the end-user at its heart is not a design process at all. However, using students as design consultants is another issue. While everything man-made has in some sense been designed and we are all capable of going through a basic design process, knocking someone’s teeth out does not make you a dentist!

Colum Menzies Lowe, Head of design and human factors, NHS National Patient Safety Agency

There is not a single organisation in the world that would not benefit from putting users at the heart of the design consultation process. The most exciting and compelling propositions in design currently are those that result from some form of user participation or co-design process. The Sorrell Foundation has done great things with schools and hospitals. Banks would be top of my list because they operate from internal logic and convenience, with no thought for what customers really need.

Jeremy Myerson, Director, InnovationRCA, Helen Hamlyn Research Centre

Putting the end-users at the heart of design consultation is an absolute must. It’s at the core of our work at Dott 07. We’re looking at issues covering various aspects of daily life, such as healthcare, transport, carbon neutrality. This approach – to design, process and outcome – addresses everyday problems and comes up with the best solution. Ultimately, it’s the end-user that is the advocate of good design.

Robert O’Dowd, Executive director, Dott 07

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