Following a successful bid to develop a programme of engagement for businesses supported by Scottish Enterprise - the national economic development body - Mil worked as a key member of the Design Innovation Studio at Glasgow School of Art to deliver a series of workshops and one-to-one engagements designed to explore ways in which design thinking can lever innovation across the public and private sector.
Starting within a hypothetical context, the project was designed to illustrate through participatory workshops how the processes and tools of design thinking can add value to business in numerous ways beyond conventionally perceived outcomes, such as packaging, branding etc.
Following these initial workshops, which introduce participants to a range of design tools that allow them to view a business challenge with a fresh mindset, individual companies were invited to apply for a further 2 days of one-to-one support.
Rather than focusing immediately on a preconceived outcome, i.e. “we need a new website”, the one-to-one support gave each company the opportunity to explore their entire business through the ‘lens’ of design thinking. By drawing up a design brief for each opportunity arising from this initial 'open enquiry', the designers worked with each client to explore not only how the various opportunities interrelate to add value, but also how to go about engaging the right kind of designer, and to prioritise their goals accordingly.
Engagements within the Food & Drink and Smart (technology) sectors saw high take-up from both start-up and established businesses, and participant feedback evidenced both the value of this in-depth, focused design analysis and subsequent re-prioritisation of development projects to align design activity more effectively to strategic goals.
During this period Mil also led a deeper and more sustained engagement with the prominent footwear retailer Schuh, during which he worked with a broad group of employees from across the company - from the Managing Director through distribution, sales, marketing, admin to warehouse staff - to explore how a company's brand values filter throughout all aspects of their business: from the design of communication strategies and customer experience to the internal culture of the company itself and its approach to corporate social responsibility.