I'm Starting a new series where I’ll be looking at artifacts from the not-so-distant past as a way to see how things have progressed since—it's called REWIND.
In August of 2005, Businessweek featured and article making the case that the business world needed to think more creatively—more like designers. The article goes on to mention some of the Schools that have embraced Design Thinking, creating new curriculum geared at combining business training with creative problem solving:
“At the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, Sara L. Beckman, a senior lecturer in operations, teaches a course called Design as a Strategic Business Issue. Beckman has teamed up with IDEO, Berkeley's School of Engineering, and California College of the Arts to teach a course called Managing the New Product Development Process. For many MBAs, it's the first time they have ever worked with non-business people on projects. "The analytical MBA focuses on solving a problem, but the design process focuses on problem-finding," says Beckman.”
The article goes on to point out that major corporations are embracing this thinking from the top down:
“Many companies are going directly to top design firms to set up customized executive-education sessions. Most of these involve getting the CEO and his top managers out shopping for the things their company sells. It's a game of "be your customer" that, despite its simplicity, can have enormous impact. Samsung has learned a great deal about design by attending various sessions at IDEO and other consulting firms.”
So nearly a year later, the D-School movement seems to be going strong. The Rotman School of Management talks about the “creative age”. The IIT’s Masters of Design Methods program is gaining traction, and even the Kellogg School of Management has gotten into the mix.
But do you have to go back to school to “get with the program”? Depends on your current career. Whenever I go to an event and listen to the case studies—though usually inspired, I realize that I am practicing much of what is being taught in their schools. If you are not in this boat and want to be—then going back to school can be an option, but the biggest distinction between Design Thinking and general education is that regardless of learning methods—with Design, something needs to be produced. I learned this early on in my time spent at Pratt. Design is a creative process—at it’s core it’s problem solving. If you haven’t demonstrated how a problem has been solved, then you’re only learning theory. And in the world of Design—theory only flies so far.