The importance of managing the early design phases effectively and efficiently is relatively well appreciated, although how best to do this is not so clear. The successful use of lean management in the construction phase, using the principles largely developed by Toyota, has opened up the possibility of using lean design management, thus helping to establish a systematic approach to the creative design phase. This study explores the interpretation and application of lean design management in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). A survey questionnaire was used to obtain an understanding of current design management processes and practices in the UK. Findings from 125 responses indicate that inefficiencies are related to ineffective design management processes (e.g. management of briefing, design, etc.) as well as problems with procurement. The main conclusion drawn is that lean design management appears valid for implementation in the AEC sector, but needs to be customised according to the project context in order to achieve the desired value for all stakeholders.