MA Seungho Park-Lee will defend the thesis "Briefing at the pre-project phase in design consulting: How design consultants navigate through uncertainty while briefing and selling simultaneously" on 18 June 2021 at 14:00 in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Design.
Opponent: Prof. Stefan Holmlid, Linköping University, Sweden
Supervisor: Prof. Oscar Person, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Design
The public defense will be organized via remote technology. Follow defence: https://aalto.zoom.us/j/66803142373
Zoom Quick Guide: https://www.aalto.fi/en/services/zoom-quick-guide
Thesis available for public display at: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/doc_public/eonly/riiputus/
Doctoral theses in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/54
In design consulting, briefing prior to project commission – i.e., the process of communicating and negotiating a project's aim, scope, deliverables and corresponding fee – is an essential first step for designers to get a project commission and establish an initial relationship with a potential client. The aim of this dissertation is to understand the nature of briefing at the pre-project phase in design consulting and its real-life conditions for design consultants.
Through three studies of an inductive nature, it reveals how briefing is an embedded part of sales and procurement processes in design consulting, which produces a discontinuity in briefing subsequent to a project commission. Therefore, design consultants are required to predict the full scope of the (potential) project and to detail tasks in creating an offer for a potential client even though the design process inherently involves uncertainties. These real-life contexts challenge the widely accepted notions of briefing as a reflective and iterative dialogue in the context of design consulting and thus call for guidelines for sensible and practical responses for practitioners.
This dissertation shows how design consultants strategised and adapted their briefing practices to prevent and mitigate the above challenges. In dealing with clients, design consultants tailored their communication, codified briefing procedures and productised their services with the intention of both getting more project commissions and achieving better project outcomes. Dictated by the legal and organisational requirements, the process of public procurement does not allow design consultants to develop and apply such practices when tendering. The ways in which design consultants and public servants adapted their briefing and procurement practices not only exemplifies the rationale of iterative briefing in design, but also reveals the criticality of effective briefing prior to project commission for a successful project outcome.
This dissertation hereby builds an empirical view on, and practical guidelines for, design consulting practices. It also shows that briefing at the pre-project phase has a significant impact on the success of the project outcome, and hence the likelihood of design consultancies receiving project commissions in the future.
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