Keywords: design, innovation, integration, interdisciplinary training, management, multidisciplinary training, organisational integration
On the management of design: the importance of "Coupling"
Design, whether of product, process or system, is not an added-on feature; rather it is fundamental to the structure, functional characteristics, evolutionary potential, marketability and economic viability of anything which is created or manufactured. The managerial function should not isolate or restrict itself from any dimension of the creative, innovative or manufacturing process. It therefore follows that an intimate coupling, overlap and mutual involvement between manager and designer is required in order to ensure the most efficient and effective systems development. This in turn implies that the training and education of both managers and designers are contiguous and multi-functional in order that maximum mutual understanding is achieved. It also implies, especially within the manufacturing arena, that more integrative multi-functional organisational structures evolve. Such developments as lean production, post-Fordism and concurrent engineering both exemplify and demand such an integrative paradigm. Whilst many cultural, institutional, educational and attitudinal barriers mitigate against the full attainment of multifunctional integration, as well as the encouragement of interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary skills (and hence, at least potentially, the best "coupling" of manager and designer), nevertheless in recent years several important policy initiatives have been introduced at corporate, educational and national policy levels which serve to reduce such obstacles or barriers.