Design Integration Programme

New Zealand
New Zealand Trade & Enterprise
€2.1m per year
8 years (ongoing)
Design support
Better by Design


In 2003 the New Zealand government commissioned a task force made up of designers, academics and business leaders to develop a strategy to boost New Zealand’s economic growth.

The resulting report, ‘Success by Design’, recommended that better use of design by exporters could result in a considerable increase in revenue. Inspired by the findings New Zealand Trade and Enterprise established the Better by Design team in 2004 to support the work of export-focused businesses.

In 2006 Better by Design introduced the Design Integration Programme, a six stage process to help companies use design to become more innovative, efficient and internationally competitive.

Better by Design’s Geoff Suvalko explains why the programme is important for New Zealand's economy

Better by Design’s Geoff Suvalko explains why the programme is important for New Zealand's economy

How design helped

The programme helps businesses use design to create more desirable products and services, faster growth, a better workplace culture and loyal customers.

The coaching is delivered inside companies and works on the specific problems and opportunities they face. It’s a hands-on collaborative approach to learning that focuses on addressing the firm’s current challenges.

Design Integration coaches are carefully chosen for each company, these coaches are generally private sector practitioners with expertise and experience in both design and business. They support the CEO and their team, sharing knowledge and skills, breaking down some of the traditional divisions within companies that block innovation. As the confidence and design capability of the employees increases, coaches will support them in taking on increasingly complex challenges.

The initial phase of coaching is 100% funded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise – after which costs are split 50:50 with the company. The structure of the support reflects the fact that integrating design within a business is a journey, and the Design Integration Programme provides coaching that is tailored to the needs of each firm as it progresses through the six stage programme. This support is delivered in a way that is reflects the speed with which the company wants to progress, and exactly what they want to get out of the programme.

1. Enrolment
Better by Design look for CEOs who see value in design and want to know more about how it could help their business.

2. Design thinking experience
A day-long ‘Design Thinking Experience’ workshop provides an intensive introduction to the design process that’s customised to address the current challenges of each company.

3. Discover, define, design
This is a three month co-discovery process including two workshops and a series of practical activities that help companies look at the way they work through a design lens. The outcome of this is a shared understanding between the company and the coach of key commercial objectives.

4. Design activities
A series of activities help cross-functional teams within the company learn to apply design to specific challenges. Proven techniques are used to tease out and resolve real issues faced by the business.

5. Evaluation
This is an opportunity to share learning and assess progress. Teams within the company work together testing out new forms of collaboration as design behaviours become embedded at every level of the organisation.

6. Completion
Companies may spend up to two years being coached and building design skills before they graduate from the programme. At this point they will feel competent to move forward as an effective, design-led organisation. Grad companies become part of Better by Design’s learning community with continued access to events and resources.

A lot of people think of design as product design, but it’s much broader than that. The Design Integration journey is a whole way of thinking. It’s about working together in different ways. It’s as much a philosophy as it is a practice.

Mark Cowden
Marketing Manager, Escea

The outcome

  • 40:1 return on government investment
  • 150 businesses have participated in the programme
  • 24% average annual export growth of participants

Better by Design set itself an ambitious target to have 50 companies generating an additional €300m in export revenue in it’s first five years. In 2010 figures showed its top 50 companies had seen a combined increase in export revenue of about €450m.

See how the programme helped fireplace manufacturer Escea

See how the programme helped fireplace manufacturer Escea

Like any well-designed service the Design Integration Programme has evolved over time to reflect the needs of the people who use it. The programme is now in its third iteration which has evolved from a more traditional consulting model and to one that places a greater emphasis on coaching within companies.

Around 150 businesses have been through the Design Integration Programme so far, and around 80 are currently engaged with it. Participating companies have seen fantastic results, at the most recent evaluation participants showed an average annual revenue growth of 15%, and average annual export growth of 24%.

We were a New Zealand manufacturing company, we now position ourselves as a global company with and an international business brand

Paul Corder
Chief Technology Officer, Actronic Technologies