Brera Design District

Ben Sheppard

McKinsey Design Index - The Business value of design

Design your value

In a view to spread the design culture as much as possible, among companies that usually do not have any links with the design field or that do not necessarily produce design objects, we find the most important field of action, where designers can act as leaders of change.
The research “the business value of design” by McKinsey highlights how companies with designers and especially a design-driven approach gain a great competitive advantage, which is physically translated into a business value. The study by McKinsey puts on the ground some sets of values that sometimes risk to remain intangible and to be not fully understood by brands and companies.


Based in London, Ben Sheppard is responsible for the development of design products and practices in the U.K. for McKinsey. Before joining McKinsey, Ben designed and built the cheapest deep-sea camera in the world, allowing to capture images of new deep-sea species at several km below sea level.
Ben has a strong experience supporting and helping customers optimise their products and services, both to improve revenues and to reduce production costs. He has worked with over thirty global leading companies in the most varied sectors (from reaction engines to sports car, from asthma inhalers to coffee machines). Ben Sheppard has a strong experience in the development of global transformation programmes focusing on leadership training, project management and portfolio planning.
Ben founded in London the McKinsey laboratory Design-to-Value. He regularly holds seminars on innovation and design-to-value at University College London. As leader in McKinsey’s research on the business value of design, he regularly talks about this topic in worldwide conferences.


What are the goals of this research?
Over the past five years McKinsey & Company has received an ever-larger number of questions on design from CEOs and senior leaders. They want to know what design actions they can take to give their organizations the best possible chance of making products & services that delight customers, stand out from the competition and drive growth. We therefore undertook the “Business Value of Design” study to do two things for the first time globally. Firstly, to rigorously quantify the financial benefits associated with good design practices. And secondly to analytically uncover the individual design actions that leaders can take to improve their financial performance. The extensive research - analyzing the performance of 300 companies over a five-year period - quantifies the benefits of analytical design leadership, cross-functional talent, continuous iteration, and focus on user experience. We hope the findings provide a pragmatic framework for business leaders and design leaders to work together to make objective decisions on where to make design investments within their organization, and how they might structure their next steps to improve performance.

Which will be the role of the designer inside companies in the future?
One of the key findings in our study was that for design to be at its best, design teams must work cross-functionally across the organization, not siloed away as many organizations do. At its core, design is about understanding customer needs and then creating a product or service that addresses their unmet needs. This user-centric vision should be a shared responsibility across everyone in an organization, and the designer’s role is vital in bringing it to life. We also believe that the future is bright for new types of “hybrid” designer/business strategists. The ability for a talented designer to understand the business context in which they operate and speak the same language with counterparts from finance, marketing, and engineering will be extremely powerful as design matures within an organization.

Why have you decided to show the results at Fuorisalone?
Fuorisalone is one of the most important and inspirational global design events. Milan Design Week brings senior business leaders and design leaders together in one city, so we felt it a fitting forum to demonstrate how design can tangibly impact and unlock value for businesses who might be regulars to the week or attending for the first time.


10 Aprile 2019
℅ Fondazione Feltrinelli
Viale Pasubio, 5

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