Creative Dundee

Boost by Design: Visioning the future of your social enterprise

A feature by Perrine Mercenier.

BOOST by Design is a new project – developed and led by Creative Dundee – for Dundee’s Social Enterprises who are keen to develop their understanding of design, innovation and digital skills. You can learn about the project here.

On Monday – 6th March – 13 social enterprises joined us again at The Circle for the third Boost by Design workshop. You can read about the first and second workshops here.

The two first sessions focused on how service design methods can be used to know your customers better and generate ideas to solve identified problems.

Developing connections and collaborations in and outside the city

Annie Marrs, Project Coordinator at Dundee UNESCO City of Design, and Gillian Easson, Director of Creative Dundee started this session highlighting the great local opportunities of connections and collaborations participants could benefit from.

Dundee became the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design in December 2014, and one of only 22 cities in the world to hold the prestigious title. As a UNESCO City of Design, Dundee is committed to using design to help solving social challenges in Dundee. Every organisation based in Dundee can benefit from this title simply by agreeing to the “City Values, by signing up to these, then the UNESCO City of Design logo can be used and news can be shared with the City of Design team. To get involved, you can follow them on social medias: Twitter  and Facebook, share your news or contact them here.

In such a strong design-led city, there is a real potential for third sector organisations to create connections and use design practices to tackle the challenges in the city.

“If we don’t make this bridge between our third sector and the potential of our local design, we could miss real opportunities!” Gillian Easson – Creative Dundee

You can follow what’s happening in Dundee, on Creative Dundee’s website, Facebook and Twitter.  

Integrating design thinking practices

Next, Andrew Cameron and Jen Ballie, Design-led Business Innovation Programme Manager and Research Manager at V&A Museum of Design, Dundee  ran a session to help participants consider developing new business ideas through using design thinking. 

In the room new groups formed with different skillsets and within 10 minutes at each of the tables, teams  had considered the future of their own organisations. Helped by design thinking principles,questions such as “How can I transform my services and make them more  participatory?” were helped by looking at inspiring case studies such as S’up Spoon or Scott and Fyfe. New ideas emerged at each table and enabled the participants to think about their organisations in a different way and diversify their organisation’s products and services.

“It was great to get input from others! It’s energising and refreshing!” Boost by Design participant

On the road to design-led innovation

The  Danish Design Ladder was introduced to show how design can be used in organisations; there are several steps on the ladder which can be rated from non design, design as a style, design as a process to design as a strategy – application of design thinking in whole the business. You can learn more about the Danish design Ladder here. 68% of UK’s companies are still in the two first levels.


Participants were asked to identify where they felt their organisation would sit on the ladder, before and after the activities.Participants discovered that they could reach the upper levels of the ladder thanks to the tools they gained during the Boost by Design workshops.

Insights of the day

This third afternoon enabled participants to find out that  UNESCO City of Design status  is not just a buzzword, and that V&A Dundee is much more than a new museum. There are opportunities for social enterprises to get onboard with design and benefit from it.

This session was useful for boosting new routes of diversification for the social enterprises, again achieved through the  power of collective working. By harnessing everyone’s skills, ideas were radically transformed into achievable and sustainable projects, and it didn’t take a lot of time!

We look forward to meeting these great design thinkers for the final session where we will focus on digital and community engagement tools. More details soon…  



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