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KCDM: Competence Center for Design Management

Slovenian Creative & Industrial Sectors

The potential of design in Slovenia has not yet been widely recognized. There has been a lack of synergy between design and business communities, no national strategy, and a weak support infrastructure. In 2013, nineteen Slovenian organizations in both the industrial and creative sectors came together with aspirational objectives to:


  • introduce design and design management to the participating organizations
  • systematically connect the design and business communities
  • provide and organize training
  • create a professional network
  • integrate design into a national development strategy
  • create initiatives for the design sector

The 19 participating companies* created a Competence Centre for Design Management (KCDM) within the framework of the European Union Social Fund.

After extensive research into best practices in the international design and the design management community, KCDM developed a modular competence model. The model defined five job areas: foreman, area engineer, project manager, process manager, and design management consultant. It framed basic design management competencies for each job profile.

Each participating company chose modules that targeted their individual business objectives. The trainings included

  • in-house training for lower level job profiles
  • internal training that included the peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge between the partner organizations of KCDM
  • outsourced external training

KCDM companies participated in 33 months of activities engaging 44% of their employees in training. An analysis of the financial data from 2012 – 2015 from all 19 partners in the project revealed outstanding results. While the outcome cannot be attributed exclusively to design management, indicators show that they would not have achieved the same results without implementing design management into their practice. In total, the results show:

  • 70% increase in added value per employee
  • 245% increase in net profit
  • 14% growth in business income

Progress was made on the national level as well. The project led to the integration of design management in the undergraduate and graduate academic curriculum at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, and the Faculty for Design.


In addition, design and design management was included in the Slovenian Smart Specialization Strategy, guidelines that the Slovenian government developed to make the country more globally competitive. In fact, in 2015 (after the KCDM was formed) the European Commission described the strategy as one of the best in the EU.

In the end, perhaps the most long-lasting value of the project was that it set up an optimal framework, structure, and knowledge base for the further development of design management in Slovenia. It creates a foundation for an autonomous, independent Competence Center for Design Management to share best practices, provide training using the KCDM competence model, promote design management strategies, and provide an influential and powerful international network.

*Participating design studios and individuals included Gigodesign; IlovarStritar;; Primož Mahne s.p.; Miran Ogrin s.p. and Rdeči oblak. Manufacturing companies included Adria Mobil; Intra lighting; Studio Moderna Storitve; Leseno, oblikovanje prostora; Konstrukcije Schwarzmann; Seascape; Studio Moderna; M-Schwarzmann; Adria Dom; Petrič; SIP, strojna industrija. Administrative support was provided by Klin and NEC Cerknica.


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