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But before you do – we thought it would be useful to hear about the benefits of lifelong learning and development from two experts in the field of CPD – continuing professional development:
Caroline McDonald, Director of Access and Engagement at Birkbeck, University of London.
Jordan Scammell, Development Team Manager at the University of Westminster.
DBA: Let’s face it, people are busy – why does CPD matter?
Caroline: Learning is a lifelong commitment, it doesn’t stop when you’re 18 or 21. You’ve got to keep up and stay on top. But it’s not just about learning for learning’s sake. It contributes to better mental health and happiness, and usually leads to an increase in salary! It’s interesting that in the USA, they’re more progressive about continuing professional development, they’re more reflective and self-aware than we give ourselves space to be, they are committed to investing in themselves.
Jordan: It can be a challenge to find the time of course but committing to it is really important. It might take two days, and you might have a lot on your plate, but you have to think about it strategically. If you make time for development, it could have a favourable impact on your efficiency, help you manage conflict better. You could be saving a lot of time going forward if you invest in this training now. You have to really think about what the return on investment will be.
DBA: Do you practice what you preach?
Jordan: I do! Once a month, I block out three hours for my professional development, to step away from the day job, and do some horizon-scanning, of the sector, of my colleagues, benchmarking myself and what we do against others. I’m head of development and fundraising and I must protect that time.
Caroline: Absolutely! We offer a really generous scheme where staff have the majority of their fees covered to undertake study at Birkbeck – the individual only contributes 5% and individual departments subsidise further. Our careers team are really helpful in helping staff apply for internal positions as well. We are also advocates for peer mentoring to offer other support to staff and navigate progression. We have a core training offer around project management, line management, how to deal with difficult situations – it’s more pragmatic ‘how do I do my job better’ stuff. And we undergo an annual development review of all staff and training and learning needs are assessed and then passed on to professional development colleagues. That way we can identify common themes and needs.
DBA: There’s a difference between practical upskilling and the more ‘coaching-style’ type of training course isn’t there?
Caroline: We refer to what we call ‘the second chancers’ – you left education 20 years ago and you’ve learned everything there is to know on the job, but are you future-proofed? If you were to leave that job tomorrow, would your skills translate and resonate across fast-evolving sectors? Of course, different training resonates for different reasons. If you’re in a leadership role you need to be self-reflective, but if you’re organising training for your team, you need to reflect ‘with’ them on what they really need.
Jordan: Practical courses are always popular because there is a clear output to your time invested. It’s tangible, you’re upskilling, and there is a direct benefit to your role immediately. But when you’re in a senior or a leadership role, it’s less about the practical and more about strategic thinking and getting the best out of your team – although I would say it is important that you keep pace with developments in technology.
DBA: Speaking of accessing training, how easy is it?
Caroline: If you’re an articulate, senior level member of staff, you’re probably going to have no problem accessing training. Often it’s the quieter less established staff members who are more overlooked. Giving people the confidence to put themselves forward is key.
Annual reviews can help identify training needs, but they don’t always marry up with what’s in the budget, so as a boss, you have to be prepared to be flexible about timing and give people the tools they need to pursue development on an individual basis.
DBA: So an important message for the decision-makers in any company?
Caroline: To bosses, I would say, there’s a lot of evidence that increasingly, if you want to sustain and maintain a good employee base – they need to feel valued, particularly in this political climate, it makes them feel secure. One way to do this is to invest in staff training. If you want to be a 21stcentury, forward-facing employee-focussed business, you will attract new staff and offer a better commitment for your existing staff, so they don’t take their new skills elsewhere.
DBA: What does the future look like in the world of CPD?
Jordan: Online development is very popular. We have an online portal with video tutorials, you’ll be set tasks and get a digital certificate when you complete them, which can be shared on LinkedIn. It’s really valuable and lots of people find online training easier because it’s accessible and can be undertaken in your own time.
Caroline: Training tends to be thought of at a very localised level, if you’re lucky enough to have a good line manager for example, or perhaps a good regional manager. We have to change the narrative as CPD makes you better, happier, and more successful, and boosts your mental health.
It was a beautiful morning overlooking the Thames when six prestigious judges entered the glass-walled boardroom to take on the challenge of naming the winner of the Grand Prix in the Design Effectiveness Awards 2019.
An introduction from Chairman of the judges Clive Grinyer set the scene – as always – the judges measure the effectiveness and impact of design. As CEO Deborah Dawton says, it’s about ‘the difference design makes’.
Businesswoman and entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, CEO of London & Partners Laura Citron, Arup Deputy Chairman Tristram Carfrae, Cisco Chief Executive, UK & Ireland, Scot Gardner, James Cain OBE, Chief Executive, Harrogate Spring Water and Mark Fairweather, CEO of Whitworths, came together at Coley Porter Bell for the third and final round of judging.
Heated debate, persuasive points of view, for a while, the outcome seemed to lay in the balance – but in the end, a clear winner emerged.
Of course, it’s top secret until the Awards ceremony on June 12th at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London.
The overriding impression when looking through the Design Effectiveness Awards winning entries is that every one of the applicants is being conscious of the decisions they make. They have realised that considering what they do, who it is for and taking deliberate actions to create impact, are essential to achieving their objectives. And it’s this conscious awareness of design at the heart of how they think that’s led to these businesses standing out in crowded markets, driving engagement through enhanced or simplified user experiences, reacting to the changing and future needs of customers.
Although there are still those who see design as something to layer on afterwards (and in doing so, miss the opportunity to deliver the true breadth and depth of impact of which design is capable), increasingly we see a shift in the positioning of design inside business and beyond. Leaders can see the impact of understanding what triggers impact and success, of experimenting and going further to deliver delight, surprise or even just simply working as you want something to work.
The start-up phenomenon of the last two decades has had an impact on how we see design. A host of exciting new products and services, often with designers as their founders, have emerged and disrupted more traditional businesses. For many new companies, their launch pad and energy are rooted in a desire to reshape the world as it should be, not in how it has evolved. Legacy technology, traditional market thinking and simple lack of imagination have held both business and public sector thinking back.
But a start-up has a blank piece of paper, often accompanied by real insight into the frustrations of using existing ways of doing things. Banks are the obvious example. Our major banks still hold most customers, but they are being forced to innovate and move fast by a host of new banks who start with design. Banks who are prioritising design from their outset to smash conventions, to focus on simplicity (which is never simple to deliver) and to identify what people wanted, but could never previously get.
Innovation has been top of mind for a long time, but the relationship with design has not always been strong. The drive to digital and social media bring great advantages to customers and marketeers, from better government services to youth engagement of your brand. But it’s taken a while to see that great innovation needs great design to speed adoption and make new ideas relevant.
But now we can see the two marching in step. The best performers are those where great design has not just communicated a product or service. The winners take design to their heart and find the insights that will drive creativity that leads to a step change, not just a new lick of paint. Whether a major brand, a charity or an infrastructure project, we can see how design is the start of the conversation. That conversation is less ‘what do we have?’ but more ‘what should we have?’. How can we make those conscious decisions that make the most of our resources and efforts and deliver real impact?
The DBA Design Effectiveness Awards are more than just a celebration of a huge range of proven and often incredible examples of the impact of design. They are becoming a record of how design is taking the centre stage, filing the first page and driving the strategy and delivery of everything from packaging, customer experience or operating system.
I’ve spent much of my career evangelising, coercing and persuading organisations to give design a chance to show the impact it will have. The wonderful feeling in seeing this year’s awards is that design has made it; it is front and centre, embraced throughout organisations and a vital part of their success. Of course this is not yet true for all business, but it is true for the Design Effectiveness Award winners – their conversation started, and ended, happily, with design.
Entered jointly by client and designer, and rigorously judged by industry leaders in three rounds of judging, the Awards represent independent and authoritative recognition of the unambiguous value of design.
This year – we saw the impact of design across the spectrum.
View the shortlist of 59 winning entries here.
The shortlisted entries will find out if they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze at the black-tie award ceremony and dinner at the Royal Horticultural Halls on the 12 of June.
Book your tickets for the 2019 Design Effectiveness Awards ceremony here and find out what a difference design makes.
“Clive Grinyer has been a passionate advocate for the transformational potential of design for some three decades. Today’s focus on the value of digital product design and on design’s value in leading customer experience in the UK is, in large part, due to his work.” Creative Review, Top 50 Creative Leaders, 2018
Photo by Tom Hill on Unsplash
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash