Design to Business (D2B) Integration is a structured audit, planning and mentoring programme which helps companies build design into their business activities in order to become more innovative and achieve sustained competitiveness and growth, especially through export opportunities.

The programme does this by allowing participating firms to build their own capabilities in design management, making design central and integrated within their business. Cobalt was one of the first Australian consultancies involved in the programme, with Managing Director Steve Martinuzzo being an Auditor since it was first piloted in Victoria in 2011.

D2B Integration is yet another successful New Zealand export, that Australians are making their own. It originated from the highly successful ‘Better by Design’ programme developed over 10 years ago by a small group of senior Kiwi design and business practitioners who decided business needed more support in understanding how to use design. Since then the programme has been tuned and run several times in Australia at both state and Commonwealth levels.

Straight from the CEO's mouth

Other similar programmes, such as Britain’s Design Leadership Programme also focus on making design an integral part of business and supercharging their drive for innovation and user centred offerings. Like these, most of the NZ and Australian companies who have participated in the programme have benefited, and some have had truly astonishing successes. Consequently the CEOs of these organisations end up becoming the biggest advocates of the programme, and champion design thinking throughout their organisations. Some of these stories include:

Phil & Teds: Baby Buggies, NZ. CEO Campbell Gower credits the programme for providing clarity that allowed them to align their brand and product design. The result: a 10-fold increase in turnover in less than 5yrs.

Centor: Windows and Door Systems, Qld. After Nigel Spork undertook the D2B programme (called Ulysses in Qld) he transformed his financially crippled family business into a booming global leader by embracing new product development and truly understanding the end user of their products. They have since been recognised by multiple business and product awards and launching its products in the US and UK to international acclaim.

Branach Ladders: Specialised Ladders, Victoria. CEO Mike Walsh credits the programme’s audit and on-going mentoring with committing the company to serious technical research and energising company with a vision of what they could become.

According to Steve Martinuzzo, the audit and plan phases include a series of interviews with the client’s senior management and key personnel over four days. The audit team consists of three highly experienced professionals; a business analyst, a product designer and a brand designer. The process is not for the faint hearted with participants challenged to have their culture, strategy, product, process and brand aligned as well as bullishly aimed at being the best in the world in the business they choose to operate.

The result is a plan to address and build on the key issues, challenges and opportunities from which the company can build from. To support and build capabilities with the key people within the organisation, the programme offers 12 months of mentoring where regular input from an appointed mentor and structured workshops guide the company toward truly embedding new thinking and capabilities within their own team and processes.

Firms which qualify for the Victorian funded programme receive audit and mentoring services valued at approximately $80,000, whilst only investing $9,000.

“Unlike other programmes I’ve seen, D2B works by embedding a strong design philosophy throughout the entire company, starting with its senior management team. It’s not about designers telling them what to do, it’s about the business building their own capabilities themselves” says Steve. “Once positive results of this integrated approach start to be realised the internal appetite for innovation and user-centred products really flourish. For companies with courage, D2B can be the kickstart they need to transform their focus to be world’s best in their chosen space”.

For more information or to apply for the D2B Integration programme contact:

Leonard Carrillo
Design to Business Program Manager