Publication Details

Styger, L. E. J. & Ellis, I. (2013). The role of the design coach - A novel approach to achieving 360 collaboration between industry and higher education. Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Design Education - Growing Our Future, EPDE 2013 (pp. 240-245). United Kingdom: The Design Society.

Archived with permission of copyright holder The Design Society.


There is significant latent design talent within the broader business community, however, much of the design potential is isolated, and, lacks the necessary focus to manifest positive commercial outcomes. Research has indicated that this situation is due to a myopic design development process that is typically caused by the lack of larger team dynamics, reporting structures, and more formal review and feedback processes. The role of the coach is well established in business environments, where, a specialist practitioner enables an environment that supports personal and operational development. Unfortunately the concept of the design coach is not as well established because, typically, the environmental mix does not always offer foundation for reliable coaching practice. Moreover, it is often challenging to establish a credible design coach within the conflicting parameters of the creative focus and the commercial focus of the smaller design business. This paper discusses the core findings from a recent study of the assignment of a design coach from a higher educational establishment to a small Australian bespoke guitar manufacturing business, during the transition of the operation from a functional craft orientated business into a design driven business. The paper illustrates how a credible design coach can strengthen emerging design talent and assist in directing the business in returning the optimum benefit for effort. The paper also illustrates the framework for both creative and commercial engagement that was developed from the work that catalysed true design collaboration between industry and academic partners and the return contribution into the educational environment.

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