EAS Enterprise Estonia
What we did?
Develop the educational program
Who did it?
The Design Masterclass has been one of the most significant design education programs in Estonia. It has fundamentally changed both the public’s and industry’s understanding of what design is. Enterprise Estonia (now Estonian Business and Innovation Agency) has named this program as their most successful and popular development program.
Since 2018, the same trio has been behind the content, organisation and development of the DMK program: Design Minds, Brand Manual and BDA Consulting. The client of the program and the big picture goals have remained the same over the years, but the duration, intensity, methodology, tools, workshop formats have been constantly upgraded and developed according to the feedback of the participants and the change of the surrounding economic environment.
Design managers have been one of the most important success criteria of the program and today have a strong influence on the Estonian business landscape. They are personal mentors and supervisors selected from among Estonia’s top designers and consultants. They help company teams better understand the essence of design and design tools. They personally lead the design process and, if necessary, push it from behind.
Over the years, DMK has worked out the best balance between theory and practice that takes into account the diligence and character of Estonians. The independent preliminary work done by the design managers (a design audit mapping the participant company’s current state), joint workshops and networking with other participants, inspirational speakers, independent work with the rest of the company’s team and end-customers have embedded design in them and created for the participants the ability to repeat a similar design process in the future without outside help or guidance.
The competitive moment has also helped to justify the intense pace. Even though the participants are not necessarily competitors, on the final day of the program they compete for recognition and a financial prize in front of a jury consisting of investors, engineers, top managers and service developers. Just like in real life, they have to make their strengths understandable and visible.
Method and impact
DMK structurally follows the double-diamond model created by the UK Design Council. The program takes 5-6 months and starts with bringing matching design managers to companies and ends with presentation pitches to a jury.
Dozens of companies have changed their operating principles, business strategy, structure, work culture and product development process (if one existed before the program). The winners of the last years – Factory Seven, Dipperfox, Artproof, Baubauwall – have launched completely new products and services on the market, which all started from the DMK program. The same applies to dozens of other companies that did not make it to the top in the fierce competition.
Indirectly, the DMK program can in turn be considered the godmother of several other private and public sector development programs. Dozens of teams from the Environment Agency, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Agriculture and Food Agency, the Health Fund, the Ministry of Rural Affairs and other state institutions and agencies have completed the public services development program ATAP and the Service Design Development Program.
The top management development program SD4X (Service Design for Executives), created in cooperation between Tallinn University, Maastricht University, Stockholm School of Economics Riga and Brand Manual, has made the same knowledge and skills available to international companies as well. Not to mention the many other training and development programs that follow the structure, methods and working principles developed by DMK organisers over the years.
Thanks to the DMK program, the companies and design managers that have participated, the meaning of design has changed. An ever growing number of company owners and managers have learned to understand design as a discipline, mindset, and strategic toolset to grow their business and competitive advantage. Knowhow of design thinking as well as implementing design as a business development tool in Estonia is, today, world class!