Design-led Innovation Readiness: priming small to medium-sized enterprises for strategic innovation

Mark Bailey, Nick Spencer, Justine Carrion-Weiss, Arman Arakelyan, Anthonia Carter

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This research explores innovation-readiness in the context of design-led innovation in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). It builds on work undertaken and published by the lead author’s team in 2018. This reported on the team’s rapid design-led intervention for supporting organisations to establish innovation readiness.
Since the first delivery the approach has been deployed with over 60 separate enterprises across three different countries; UK, USA, and Armenia. It has evolved to be delivered through different modes; one-to-one, one-to-many, face-to-face and on-line. Further, it has been developed in such a way that postgraduate students, or ‘novice facilitators’, can take an active role in its delivery.
In this study a mixed-methods approach is used, combining thematic analysis of participant surveys, co-reflection and semi-structured interviews with participants and facilitators. Findings suggest that this design-led delivers different benefits from typical business innovation readiness assessment and audit tools. It involves a form of co-creative, speculative knowledge venturing that supports enterprises in not only understanding their innovation readiness, but also in creating and mapping strategic innovation opportunities, thereby priming them to engage in design-led innovation practices. This co-creation of knowledge leads to both new innovation opportunities and new knowledge about the innovation readiness of the enterprise. It is revealed as a fundamental, catalytic aspect of the programme irrespective of mode, or location, of delivery.
This paper will be of interest to researchers and practitioners who are seeking to develop innovation support programmes working with MSMEs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Apr 2022
Event23rd DMI: Academic Design Management Conference : Design Management as a Strategic Asset - OCAD University, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 3 Aug 20224 Aug 2022


Conference23rd DMI: Academic Design Management Conference
Abbreviated titleADMC 2022
Internet address


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