Each member of the MAIM Class of 2014 shares their individual experiences of innovation in the lead up to our Degree Show Exploiting Chaos: Innovation in the Making. Here, Evgenia Boguslavska shares her thoughts on bridging from different insights, expertise and approaches towards organizational strategy.
Focusing on the Luxury Fashion industry, over the course of my research process this focus narrowed from a general argument of necessary strategies for innovation and competitive advantage to concentrating on internal organizational cultures and talent management. More specifically, existing management structures used by ‘heritage brands’ support the brands business side as holding great weight on final decisions, even if the design department embodies the brands essence.
Bridging the gap between Design & Business
In order to understand the gap that exists between business-focused and creative teams I attempted to investigate and highlight factors that may be lost in translation. I found shared values, motivation, and communication to be at the core of this gap, and turned to the idea of personal partnerships in order to observe these factors at the organizational level. Turning to previous successful and sustainable partnerships in the fashion industry – either built on love as was the case with Yves Saint Laurent, or on the pure appreciation of design and harmonious teamwork as was the case with John Galliano and Valerie Hermann at Dior – through the lenses of these case studies it became clear that successful brands have built a support system around design, which in turn have driven revenue.
Stories of successful partnerships between designer and executive have been seen, and provide examples of relationships that are developed around effective connections between diverse strengths, which may be extrapolated as a way to bridge creativity and business on a larger scale. As Nicolas Ghesquiere, the ex-creative director of Balenciaga, explained in an interview to System Magazine, ‘Miuccia Prada has an extraordinary partner, whereas I was doing everything by myself’.
The original innovation opportunity suggested at the outset of my project was based on the idea of a ‘designer buffer’ department – a kind of mediator system between the creative and business teams, which has been implemented in other industries, such as Chris Bangle and BMW. However, in order to achieve this ideal partnership, the successful bridging of the two areas might evolve into an organizational restructuring with the inclusion and consideration of talent management.
The idea of talent management as a tool began to appear in the research when reviewing constant debates on the topic of managing creativity, which argues that to increase collaboration between departments management should be reinvented, holding a different purpose in a design-driven company. Achieving shared values between creatives and business school graduates, who often hold management and marketing positions in companies in the luxury sector, is a difficult task as not only aesthetics but motivational factors differ. However, the generation of people in charge of heritage and family owned companies that have become megabrands are retiring and opening space for fresh collaborative practitioners.
Those entering the work force now, from creativity and business, have a shared understanding of digital, consumer experience and design, and although they may have a very different educational background collectively embrace the future of work.
To learn more about creative collaboration in the luxury fashion industry and Evgenia’s research please join us at the upcoming MA Innovation Management Degree Show Exploiting Chaos: Innovation in the Making from 18-22 June.