As the EU continues to face new global economic realities, the role of design and innovation has become increasingly predominant in ensuring that the Member State economies remain competitive.
Innovation success is often benchmarked by those economies which use factors including research and development spending and have a concentration of high-tech companies. Equally important is the use of design at the helm of innovation. Good design and design thinking are the essence of progressive innovation in the 21st Century.
Last year, the MBB was appointed by the Design Council to become a local Ambassador for the Design for Europe project and has since begun a Design awareness campaign in Malta, bringing some of Europe‘s top design experts to the island. Its involvement in this project has facilitated in bringing foreign best practices to the local scene whilst extending the network‘s voice to local businesses in the services sector with a specific focus on the hospitality industry.
The Design for Europe project is a European wide initiative co-funded by the European Commission that enables countries to become leaders in design innovation. Since its inception in 2013, the pioneering project has captured and shared the best examples of design innovation in business, the public sector and policy making.
In encouraging EU members to adopt various design thinking approaches, a variety of practical tools has been made available through the Commission’s project. The MBB has focused its efforts on promoting the service design approach amongst some of Malta’s leading businesses.
Holitstically, Service Design can be seen as the activity of planning and organsising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and effectiveness. In June, the MBB held a two day service design capacity building work shop, attended by 32 participants comprising individuals in top management positions within the hospitality, health and financial services sector.
The workshops served as a guide to help companies discover and implement new tools and techniques which have been tried and tested by some of the world‘s leading businesses. The objective was to provide participant companies with practical insight and knowledge on how to use service design to improve business performance. In grasping a better understanding of the role and benefits design can play in their business, pParticipant companies have since acquired the ability to assess their own business performance from a service design perspective. Addtionally, the workshops have provided the necessary knowledge on how to implement these approaches within their business environment.
By way of introducing innovative methodological approaches within Malta’s hospitality industry through existing service design tools, the industry stands to improve internal resource efficiency, and enhance client interaction. This is conducive to a boost in the use and satisfaction with the company’s range of services leading to improved business performance.
While it may be easier not to use design or service design for that matter, its under-use will in time, make it harder for businesses in the hospitality to remain competitive. Often, the fear of running into financial constraints presents a great hindrance to the integration of various design disciplines within businesses. Contrary to popular belief, operational challenges need not be overcome by heavy financial investments but rather improving- by way of thinking and strategy – what could be improved in that which already exists.
Some leading best practice examples in the local hotel industry have stressed on the importance and benefits that design plays in their business. Through their operational Innovation Departments, some hotels have taken up service design approaches which have in turn helped them to achieve higher standards and save money and time. This can be seen as a long term investment which enables companies to deliver in the most efficient manner.
Following the success of the capacity building workshops, the MBB has facilitated effective dialogue between various local stakeholders in order to map current, national design systems whilst also identifying local strengths and weaknesses for design. This dialogue has spearheaded the need to develop a design policy vision and actions that correspond to the gaps in the design system. These outcomes will culminate in the pursuit of tangible assessments and practical policy proposals as a first step to addressing these gaps. As a result, the MBB will continue to contribute towards the sustainability of Malta’s economy which is so highly service based.