Design knowledge management
Prof. Paola Bertola, Politecnico of Milano,
In her contribution professor Paola Bertola, teaching at the Politecnico di
Milano University, relates design management to knowledge management. Point
of departure is the question how design as a source of knowledge management
can support innovation in small and medium-sized companies. After all, these
companies often have to find a way to translate their informal contact with
design into a formal attitude.
The first part of her account deals with the relationship between design management
and knowledge management. In the second part she discusses design's contribution
in a number of contexts (30 case studies). At the end of her account professor
Bertola unfolds one case study (an action research case study): how design was
introduced into the Mangiameli family business, a small company with which the
Knowledge is a field in which designers and managers can find each other. This
is why knowledge - in all its appearances the source for innovation - is such
a good starting-point for analysing design's contribution to business.
More than in the past, companies focus on the impact of knowledge. Companies
now `recognize' knowledge and think in terms of immaterial rather than material
sources. When companies organize their knowledge, when they organize skills
to build up know-how, knowledge becomes a production factor. For small and medium-sized
companies, where knowledge often exists in an informal and implicit way, it
is quite important to introduce such an explicitly formulated knowledge.
Typical of knowledge is that it works as a process, so companies should try
to introduce new elements of organisation at the same time as learning from
them. During this process of learning, design can play its own part as a source
for knowledge and innovation. In new business models knowledge is a `competitive'
factor, is a product itself - in other words, knowledge qualifies workers at
any level of the process. This is why we can pose the question: Are designers