Most corporations generate a steady stream of designed artifacts—products, print communications, websites, advertising, manuals, financial reports, signage, retail environments, packaging, trade show exhibits—the “posters and toasters” of 20th-century commerce. When you add the growing list of emerging opportunities—customer experience, service planning, decision design, strategy mapping, and culture development—you begin to appreciate the need for strong design management.

In part 1 of “The Power of In-house,” our advice was to re-imagine the internal design department as an independent studio, fostering skills that rival those of external firms. Yet as valuable as design skills can be, the in-house team can make an even higher contribution—that of thought leadership.

In an age of nonstop innovation, winning companies will be those that establish a broad-based culture of innovation. How? By absorbing more about design thinking, aesthetic principles, communication theory, and brand strategy. While the role of the design manager is necessary to win the innovation game, the role of design coach will soon become crucial.

What if the internal design department could jumpstart design thinking in your company by running educational programs on innovation, branding, and the creative process? What if the department’s “clients” better understood the use of design as a business tool?

Download the slide below that shows some of the courses, classes, and workshops that could help establish a culture of innovation in your company. Share it with your team and see if you start some thoughtful conversations about the role of internal design.