Vision Concepts for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Developing a Design-Led Futures Technique to Boost Innovation

Ricardo Mejia Sarmiento

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

161 Downloads (Pure)


Concept cars have long been successfully applied in the automotive industry as a design-led way to envisioning the future. While automotive corporations use this futures technique as a driver for innovation, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in other industries have not had the benefit of such explorations, largely because concept cars are too resource-intensive and poorly suited to the SMEs’ needs and idiosyncrasies. To democratize this design practice and help SMEs, which are essential to social and economic prosperity, we have developed DIVE: Design, Innovation, Vision, and Exploration. It is a design-led futures technique that assists designers in making and using concept cars –as experimental artefacts that act as visions which embody ideas about the future– as ‘vehicles’ for innovation in SMEs, no longer confined to the automotive sector. Its development began with an inquiry into concept cars in the automotive industry and concept products and services in other industries. We then combined the insights derived from these design practices with elements of the existing techniques of critical design and design fiction into the creation of DIVE’s preliminary first version. This was then applied and evaluated in seven iterations with SMEs, resulting in DIVE’s alpha version. All iterations of DIVE in context show that SMEs can make and use concept cars, tailored to their own domain, to receive some of the benefits of exploring the future using design within the front-end of their innovation strategy. These companies can make concept cars to identify opportunities and threats and to give a sense of direction when they face a significant change. DIVE begins with setting a vision, embedded in an artifact, and then working backward to map a path of ideas, connecting the future to the present. Although the results of these activities might be less flashy than concept cars, these simple prototypes and videos help SMEs internalize and share a clear and concrete image of a preferable future for employees, allies, and investors. Concept cars, prototypes of the future, can also be used at the start of a new product’s design process to combine all the results of investigations on product, market, and technology. Subsequently, it is used to define a design brief and as a criterion to select the most promising ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Stappers, P.J., Supervisor
  • Hultink, H.J., Supervisor
  • Pasman, G.J., Advisor
Award date26 Nov 2018
Print ISBNs978-94-6186-994-4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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