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How to make design work for you

Date: May 22 2022
How to make design work for you

By John Mathers, Chair, British Design Fund

The launch of the fourth British Design Fund lands just as McKinsey, the management consultancy, launches a new report on the importance of design.

It’s no secret that a healthy design team is critical to a healthy business and that design sits at the very heart of successful innovation. But simply having design resource within your team may not be enough.

The new report digs into that question, with some surprising findings. McKinsey found that the key to a successful design team has nothing to do with how many designers you have, but rather where you’re putting them to work.

You can read more in this article by Mark Wilson in Fast Company here, and if you’d like to read the full McKinsey report for free then click here.

McKinsey looked at data from 3 million designers and design leaders in more than 100,000 design departments, combined with their organisations’ financial performance. In addition, they ran an in-depth survey of over 250 business and design leaders and held interviews with 30 senior executives in leading design-driven companies.

They found that organisational integration was the hallmark of successful design. The key was embedding design (and designers) into cross-functional teams and giving them the training and the tools needed to collaborate and lead successfully.

Overall, there were three key integration themes they identified:

  • The first theme was around organisational structure. The best design teams were totally integrated in the project team where they all worked to a common set of financial objectives around time, cost, revenue and customer satisfaction.
  • The second theme involved nurturing design talent. Give them training in business and technology to better integrate them into the company. And recognise that designers put ‘purpose’ at the top of their priority list … something we recognise only too well at the British Design Fund.
  • The third theme was about using tools and infrastructure wisely … recognising that there are constantly evolving and new ways of doing things and embracing change.


Get these three themes right and you will see benefits not only in financial performance but also through having happier employees, more evidence of innovation, and stronger environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact.

Have a look at some of the recent companies we have invested in here and you will see how we have been embracing these very principles ourselves at the British Design Fund.

The fourth British Design Fund is currently open to investors and more information can be found here on the BDF4 investor portal.