Design Education

I’ve been focussing a lot of my Design research on David Kelley, Charles Owen, and Roberto Verganti. Each of them are affiliated with design schools or universities around the world, so here’s a quick look at how each designer’s views and terminology are aligned to their respective schools.

David Kelley – d.school – Institute of Design at Stanford

The d.school get straight to the point with a manifesto drawn on a napkin.

The d.school manifesto

Charles Owen – IIT Institute of Design

A surprisingly frequent lament among C-level executives at global companies goes something like, “My company knows how to make anything; we just don’t know what to make.” As businesses have become more sophisticated with technology and management processes, they have indeed become able to make almost anything – toasters that connect to the Internet, cell phones with 101 different features. But as daily life becomes saturated with technology, which of these things do customers actually want? This is the strength of strategic design: bridging the “what to make” gap by discovering users’ needs and translating them effectively into new offerings.

Our work in this area investigates the successful application of design methods, skills, and thinking to business problems related to competitiveness and organic growth. Topics include the design planning skill set; connecting shareholder value and user value; how design can mitigate strategic risk in corporations; the role of design planning in early stage ventures; and tools that can increase collaboration between generative and analytical thinkers.

Roberto Verganti – Politecnico Di Milano

The course aims to develop skills in strategic management systems of innovation-product (product-service-communication). The first part of the course discusses issues related to strategies of firms, according to the analysis of the context, the assessment of internal capacity for innovation, choice of key skills, the choice of strategic orientation, the definition of alliances and partnerships. The second part of the course explores issues relating to design driven innovation management by analyzing in detail the characteristics that align this approach to innovation in terms of access to information sources, relationships with design resources and creative process of developing new systems – product and access.

And finally, Here’s Nick Laird’s description of Strategic Design – Department of Applied Sciences at the University of Otago (The university I currently attend)

As the world becomes more complex and more connected, markets more dynamic and competitive, and technology more changeable, businesses are in urgent need of those able to take on the job of generating unique value with creative vision and insight.

Design competences can help business to cross the gap between need and offer. The strategic role of design is now being recognized as crucial for organizations and nations; and more then ever, designers are being asked to be part in leadership teams. This represents new opportunities as well as new responsibilities for designers and only those capable of integrating the business, technology and customer factors into activities that complement one another will be able to make a difference. The Strategic Design paper is targeted at defining a program of study that makes students highly effective in today’s business environment.

The attempt to connect design and business is not a new thing; in fact, this is a field that has reinvented and renamed itself several times. The new thing is that, this time, the focus is not on the technology or on the designer, but on the user – which can be summarized in the following:

For whom we design precedes the question of what we design and what we design precedes the question of how we will implement it.

Therefore, the goal of this paper is to demonstrate the value and methods of strategic and human-centered design so the students can become leaders with power and influence to ensure that human-centered thinking drives product and service innovation. They need to be literate, capable of engaging not only about design, but also about technology and business.

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