Strategic Design Management Assignment


The Task

  • Please select an organisation from one of the 10 examples shown on the slide OR select ONE organisation of your own choosing (do NOT use design agencies or consultancies). You may wish to consider using the same organisation for two or all three of your Individual Assignments, provided they will give you the information you need. Based on research, (i) describe why you chose that particular organisation (using Design-based criteria), then (ii) determine what kind of Design Management activity/strategy, structure (human resources) and achievements the company has; then (iii) apply your findings to …
  • an existing Design Management Analytical Tool (eg 4Ds, Design Pillars, Kootsta’s Staircase etc – see Lecture Slides from Week 7)

or alternatively …

  • modify an existing tool to suit your needs but remember to address this when you reference or credit the source
  • create and design a tool or framework of your own.

NB: Design the tool so that it looks and feels like the organisation under review using logos, typefaces and colours associated with their brand identity. You may use more than one tool IF you can give a compelling reason why one won’t suffice

  • Comment on HOW your chosen company manages its design requirements from an internal (staffing) and external (agencies/consultancies) perspective, giving names, job titles and numbers of people in the team where possible and identifying at least one agency, describing what kind of design work they undertake on behalf of their client. Illustrate this with an Organisation Chart if possible but note this is not a mandatory requirement
  • Give ONE ‘best practice’ example of a major DESIGN achievement from your chosen organisation and describe its main DESIGN features /attributes, supported by two illustrations with informative captions that add design detail.
  • Show how you used ‘Stylus’ to help you with this assignment (see below)


Your organisation can be any company/brand of any size in any sector, anywhere in the world, but must show evidence of effective use of good design.




Word Count/Visuals

The paper must not exceed 650 words and should be accompanied by at least three visuals, ie:

A visual or diagram of your chosen analytical tool(s) incorporating the organisation’s design requirements, design activity and/or strategy based on your research findings.

Please adapt the framework so that it ‘looks and feels’ like it belongs to your chosen organisation (ie logo, colours, typeface(s) etc.

Two visuals to support your ‘best practice’ example with suitable captions giving design details and explaining its design attributes.

Additional visuals, such as an organisation chart, may be included provided they add value, but note that this is not a mandatory requirement.


01: The research can be a combination of desk research and primary research, if/when contacting any organisation please remember (a) they do not know about the assignment and (b) be mindful of the Brunel brand and the University’s reputation.


02: Please provide evidence of learning from the taught programme using material from any of the four modules and/or recommended reading list.


03: Desk research includes lectures, workshops, books, papers, journals, newspapers, magazines and all forms of online/internet communications. All research must be referenced in the text [eg: Holt, C (2019)], and listed at the end of the paper, Harvard Style (add publication title and publisher where known)


04: Structure your paper under the following sub-headings:

  • Design Management Activity (with description + model/framework or diagram incorporating research findings/data) and adapted to ‘look & feel’ like it belongs to the company under review
  • Design Resource Evidence of internal resource (staffing) including names, job titles, numbers of personnel etc where possible; and external resource naming one major agency and describing the type of design work they carry out
  • ‘Best Practice’ Example with visuals focussed on DESIGN merits or attributes


Assessment Criteria

See Assessment Pro-Forma for details of the five assessment criteria. In addition, please consider the following:

01: Demonstrate your ability to work independently and use your own initiative in sourcing a suitable subject, appropriate framework, relevant case study & good ‘best practice’ example focussed on design detail.

02: Provide some evidence of learning from the taught programme to date (any lecture, workshop or assignment from any module on the MA DBS/DSI courses is acceptable including relevant Recommended Reading material)

03: Combine research with intelligent analysis and discussion then interpret and present it in a recognised academic & professional style. Content must be based on research evidence and not be intuitive or rely solely on personal observation and/or experience.

04: Show your ability to communicate effectively using written English, suitably structured and presented and professionally illustrated, with Harvard-style referencing where appropriate.



Stylus are experts in trends intelligence. They equip the most forward-thinking brands and agencies with the insights they need to make transformative business decisions.

Within their roster of 500+ clients, a select few are academic institutions, including Brunel University’s Design Faculty, allowing our students access to this powerful industry tool. Stylus publish 600+ cross-industry reports annually on (this content is password protected, and therefore NOT available to Google or any other search engines).

You will have received your e-mail from ‘Team Stylus to your Brunel e-mail address with details of your log-in and password.

This access includes:

  • Coverage and in-depth analysis of leading trade shows and key industry conferences

and events

  • Unlimited downloads of our reports and images
  • Fortnightly webinars presented by our in-house analysts
  • Fortnightly live chat forums with our in-house experts
  • Ongoing podcast series with our experts in conversation with industry thought-leaders
  • Complimentary access to this year’s online Trend Intelligence Summit


For a quick guide to navigating, see the video tutorials on


Stylus support for this Assignment

You will be shown how to search through the platform and pick out content to support your ideas alongside other sources, including:

  • How to search through industry events/product launches/awards – to help select and/or validate a noteworthy brand.
  • How to find the best case examples of product and service design solutions for benchmarking purposes.


Strategic Design Management: Week 4

Assignment Briefing

The Brief – Use in conjunction with the ‘Briefing


You may decide to choose ONE of the 10 organisations presented below. Alternatively, if you prefer, you may use  an organisation of your own choosing but please do NOT use a Design Agency/Consultancy as ‘Design Managers’ are mainly found in ‘client’ companies.Amazon, HSBC, IKEA, Lenovo, McDonalds, Nike, Oxfam,  Samsung, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Vodafone

You may also wish to consider using the same organisation as chosen for one  or both of the other Individual Assignments, but please remember not to use an agency/consultancy

Please remember to include reference to Stylus with a brief explanation as to how  their vast library of material was able to help

Part One: Design Management Overview:

Explain why you chose your Case (in a DESIGN context) and explain  how your chosen organisation ‘manages’ their design requirements ;

Then apply this (a) to an existing Design Management  Analytical Tool  (you may amend an existing tool to suit your requirements but you must credit the original source accordingly)

or (b) create a diagram (based on a framework/tool) of your own

You MUST use data based on your research findings and apply to the diagram; design it so that it ‘looks & feels’ like it belongs to the brand (logo, type, colours)

Part Two: Organisational Structure:

Describe the Design structure in terms of people (names & numbers), job titles, roles & responsibilities and reporting lines. Identify and describe external agency(ies) or consultancies used for design purposes

Show how/where design management ‘fits’ within your chosen organisation

Relationships with other teams/departments 

Also, if appropriate, what external design agencies & consultancies they use Part Three: Design Management Outcome:

  • Use one ‘best practice’ example to describe how the organisation has benefitted from effective use of Strategic Design Management (SDM).
  • Your description should include design features, merits and attributes


your chosen example

The paper must not exceed 650 words and be accompanied by at least three visuals;

these three visuals should be:

1)  A diagram of the analytical tool with activity data incorporated (or added alongside or  underneath) and designed to ‘look & feel’ like it came from the organisation it represents by using their logo, typefaces, images and colours etc.    2)  Two illustrations (or more) showing and describing your ‘Best Practice’ example

3)  An organisation chart showing DESIGN structure & human resources  and external agencies if possible but note that this is not mandatory NB: All figures/diagrams/illustrations MUST be accompanied by a figure number; an intelligent caption that describes what the illustration is about and

Deliverables – Your report must include:

  • An explanation as to why you chose your organisation based on designcriteria
  • Description and diagram of your chosen (or your own) Design Management Tool or Framework with your organisation’s design requirements/activity or strategy      incorporated on, alongside or underneath it
  • Description (& diagram if possible) showing DESIGN personnel (including names & numbers when available), job titles/roles & responsibilities, reporting lines etc

How the design management team ‘fits’ within their organisation       Relationships with other teams/departments + details of any external design          agencies or consultancies

  • ‘Best Practice’ example of:
  1. a) How the organisation has benefited from effective use of

Assessment Criteria

1: Did you clearly identify and explain your reasons for (a) your choice of organisation, from a design management perspective, and (b) your choice of ‘design management analytical tool or framework’ and show your research is appropriately applied using a relevant visual/diagram? 2: Was there a suitable explanation/description of the internal human resources employed (staffing) by your chosen organisation, and any external design agencies/consultancies used, and was this supported by an ‘organisation chart’ showing reporting lines, peer departments, numbers/job titles of design personnel etc? Did you describe what kind of design work the agency(ies) or consultancy(ies) do for their client?  3: Did your ‘Best Practice’ example clearly show and describe (including use of two illustrations) its relevant design details as well as its key features and main attributes from a design management point-of-view?

Assessment Criteria concluded …

4: Did the submission properly address strategic design management & leadership issues and did it show how ‘Stylus’ was used in support of your research; was the paper of a professional standard and properly supported by suitably (Harvard-style) referenced research?

Example: The Design Pillars – Holt, C. (2019) – SDM Lecture Week 2

NB: Try to display some ‘Evidence of Learning from the Taught Programme’ – this means any reference to any recommended reading material, or piece of information or data, given to you in the lectures, workshops or assignments so far this semester (up to and including the Friday 4pm Hand-in, during Week 8)

                  3-Levels of Design Management

Strategic Design Management

  • Design operates at the corporate strategy level
  • Design is treated as a source of competitive advantage
  • Design influences a company’s directions

Business or Tactical Design Management

  • Design is dictated by objectives of business units
  • Design is focused on deliver offerings
  • Design is used to explore new opportunities

Operational Design Management

  • Efficiency & Effectiveness of the design process, the design team and individual design projects
  • Design contributions to strategic/business plans

CH: 16.10.2020