On Why and How We Developed a Model for Change

We teamed up with 37 very different organisations and formed a partnership with a single goal: to improve our understanding of design and put it into effective practice.


Slovenian design community




Our initiative was triggered by observing a trend of different Slovenian companies trying to incorporate individual design management approaches into their business operations. Even though these efforts have been relatively successful, they were neither systematic nor strategic but rather dependent on the competence of the individuals that led them. Insufficient expertise and unfamiliarity with design methods and strategies were identified as the cause for the loss of international competitiveness.

KCDM brought together several types of organisations ranging from NGOs, design, consulting, to product development, manufacturing and selling. They were united by the need to systematically upgrade their internal competencies in design management. Participating parties were able to exploit the synergies among creative, business and institutional stakeholders – one of the crucial prerequisites for better understanding of design in Slovenia.

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Over the duration of the project, our company has grown from 4 to 14 employees and has entered the US and Australian markets. Thanks to KCDM, we started using service design and began systematically managing our design processes.

Andraž Mihelin, CEO


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The activities of our first KCDM partnership, founded in 2013, were focused on monitoring, collection, and dissemination of knowledge and best practices in the areas of design management and cooperation in promotion, development, and implementation of design management in the national strategies.

A unique KCDM competence model was developed that laid the foundations for the systematic empowerment of organisations and introduced them to a more strategic approach to managing their business opportunities. It was accompanied by an extensive assessment of the design and design management diagnostic of all 19 companies involved. The results showed their maturity levels and helped us identify the crucial needs for further progress.

With the acquired insights, we created a development and training plan to upgrade individual competencies. At the same time, participating organisations were encouraged to share their knowledge and experience. In this way, we followed the program based on an analysis of the competencies that companies aimed to strengthen in all five employee profiles.


The companies’ re-assessment at the end of the first KCDM program revealed positive business results in most of the companies:


Growth of added value per employee


Growth of net profit


Growth of business income

Alongside organising different forms of education activities, we also invited some of the most renowned international experts in design (Lego, IBM, Marimekko, Gore-Tex, Aalto University) to speak at our conferences, thus introducing new skills and including the latest discoveries from similar models from around the world.

The companies’ re-assessment at the end of the first KCDM program revealed positive business results in most of the companies. Its value was recognised by The Slovene Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, which financially supported KCDM 0.2 between 2017 and 2019. The second round of partnership was joined by 18 new organisations, again coming from different industries and sizes –from micro companies providing mainly services to bigger production companies, active on global markets.

In cooperation with the Brazilian company Duco, experts in the area of design research and valuation, a special Map of Skills was developed that provided every participating organisation with information about which partner organisation would be the most reasonable to cooperate with.

Business Design Intelligence assessed the companies’ design and management practices through data collection. Each participant company received an individual Design Diagnostic report of their product development and design management practices that revealed the companies’ ability to manage design at a degree that is similar to the one present at European high growth companies; but it also revealed that KCDM organisations still underperform in some areas.

Unlike KCDM 0.1, which was a pilot project and was generally oriented at all levels of design management (operational, tactical, and strategic), KCDM 0.2 was mostly focused on education of the highest profiles – strategic and tactical. The companies committed to achieve an important improvement in at least one of the following design areas during the project: design process, innovation, design as a strategy, or introducing the design manager profile or an inhouse design team.

Apart from focused training programmes and international conferences, networking to exchange knowledge and experience proved to be of the highest importance, acting as strong motivators of awareness of the importance of including design and design processes in strategic decision-making.

It is the personal connections that provide that special value to the KCDM project, bringing together employees from different companies participating at various cross-company workshops and training sessions. In the form of informal KCDM Alumni events their meetings still continue today. The developments and achievements described have contributed to KCDM becoming an international good practice and national reference case point in just a few years of its activities.

KCDM projects were financed by:

2013 - 2015 KCDM Financed and Supported by the EU Social Fund

2016 - 2019 KCDM 2.0 Financed and Supported by the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of Slovenia

2020 - 2023 KCDM 3.0 Financed and Supported by the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of Slovenia