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As an organisational consultant, I often deal with companies and departments that are faced with the challenge of optimising their structures and processes. It always strikes me that there are two basic approaches: the design approach and the management approach. In this blog post I will explain what exactly these terms mean, what role they play in organisational development and how design and management can be successfully combined.

Design vs. management – definitions and boundaries

First of all, we need to clarify what exactly we mean by design and management. The term ‘design’ refers to the process of developing and implementing new ideas, concepts or strategies. In other words, this approach is all about change, creativity and innovation. In contrast, ‘management’ focuses on maintaining and optimising existing structures and processes. This approach focuses on stability, efficiency and monitoring.

Features of the design approach and the management approach

It is worth identifying some of the typical features of the two approaches in order to see what sets design apart from management. In the design process, the focus is on the vision – developing an idea of what the company or department should look like in the future. This also includes identifying opportunities and risks as well as analysing the market environment and the competition. The management process, on the other hand, focuses on the current processes and structures. The aim of this approach is to optimise these processes and structures to ensure smooth and efficient operation. Analysis and evaluation play an important role in this.

Comparing the design approach and the management approach

You could also consider design and management as two ends of the same spectrum. At one end of the spectrum you have the willingness to change and stability at the other. Both aspects are key to successfully managing and developing a company or department. However, they can also come into conflict with each other. Placing too much emphasis on design can lead to instability and uncertainty. If, on the other hand, too much emphasis is placed on management, you run the risk of stagnating and lacking adaptability.

Both approaches play an important role in organisational development. The design approach helps to discover and leverage new potentials to create competitive advantages. At the same time, you must not forget that existing structures and processes also need to be optimised to ensure the efficiency and profitability of the company or department. The organisation can only be successful in the long term by striking a balance between design and management.

Design and management in practice

Concrete examples serve as a useful guide to successfully combining design and management. One company that implements this balance well is Apple, for example. The company is always setting new trends and releasing innovative products, such as the introduction of the iPhone. At the same time, it also optimises its existing processes and structures to achieve a high degree of efficiency. Online mail-order company Amazon is another successful organisation. It also works continuously on further developing and improving its processes to increase customer satisfaction. At the same time, the company also invests in research and development so it can keep coming up with new ideas and concepts.

How design and management can be successfully combined

If you want to find the balance between design and management in your company or department, you should consider the following steps:

  • 1. Analyse the initial situation: Before you start planning, you should analyse the current situation in the company or department. Your analysis should include identifying both strengths and weaknesses and assessing opportunities and risks.
  • 2. Develop a vision: You should develop a vision for the company or department based on the analysis. This aim here is having an idea of what the future should look like and what goals you want to achieve.
  • 3. Realise the vision: You should develop and implement concrete measures to realise the vision. You should pay attention to both optimising existing processes and developing new ideas and concepts.
  • 4. Evaluate: You should evaluate the measures regularly to measure their success. You should collect and analyse both quantitative and qualitative data. You can then take further action based on the results.

By following these steps, you can successfully combine design and management and set your organisation or business unit on the road to success.

Conflict and the right balance

It is important to understand that design and management are in a constant state of conflict. On the one hand, it is necessary to constantly adapt to new developments and trends and to make changes in the organisation. On the other hand, a certain stability and continuity must be guaranteed in order to be successful in the long term.

Design here refers to the willingness to change and the development of new ideas, while management refers to the monitoring, organisation and optimisation of existing processes and structures. Both aspects are key to being successful.

A successful organisation has a high capacity for innovation, which enables it to develop new products and services and thus to hold its own in the market. At the same time, however, existing processes and structures must be optimised to ensure a high degree of efficiency and productivity.

Successfully striking the balance between design and management is required to create the right culture in the organisation. A culture of openness and trust enables employees to contribute new ideas and make suggestions for improvement. At the same time, however, a clear structure and clear responsibilities must be in place to ensure that measures are implemented successfully.

This also requires clear communication within the organisation. It is important that every employee is informed about the organisation’s goals and vision and can play an active role in achieving them. At the same time, however, clear and unambiguous processes and procedures must be defined to ensure successful implementation.

Another important component is the continuous training and qualification of staff. They can only stay up to date and learn the new skills they need to ensure the success of the organisation by participating in regular training sessions and courses.

Conclusion – design and management as success factors

Design and management are key success factors in organisational development. It is about finding a balance between the willingness to change and stability in order to be successful in the long term. Striking this balance successfully can put your company or department on the road to success. If you have any further questions or need support with organisational development, I would be happy to help.

What we have to offer

adesso has extensive consultancy experience in this field. We have successfully supported numerous organisations in creating a culture of openness and trust, defining clear processes and procedures and providing continuous training for employees. Through our support, you can ensure that your company or department remains successful in the long term and successfully aligns itself for the future. We are available to work with you to develop and implement an individual strategy tailored to the specific needs of your organisation.

Please do not hesitate and contact us to take your company or department to the next level.

You will find more exciting topics from the adesso world in our latest blog posts.

Picture Mike Deecke

Author Mike Deecke

Mike Deecke is a Managing Consultant in adesso's Organisational Consulting division. Because success is not a matter of chance, but depends on the right decisions, Mike advises success-oriented decision-makers on transformation issues before the implementation phase begins. So that the right things are done right by the right people.

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