Monday, May 22, 2006

MBA elective week 4: MA/MBA collaboration

The idea of pairing MA/MBA students to work together is not original. What was surprising was the degree of engagement achieved in a face-to-face encounter that only lasted three hours, stimulated by the students' appetites to work on something tangible and learn from each other - and the potential for unusual and sustainable collaboration that might result.
Of the initial briefs created by MBA students (see previous blog post, MBA elective week 2), two were selected by tutor Noam Toran as suitable for the MA students (the others being 'too narrow a space to design in'): a service for sex workers negotiating with clients, and the redesign of economy air transport. During our afternoon at the Royal College of Art, first we saw presentations by the first year MA Design Products students in response to these briefs, ranging from witty and challenging explorations to fundamental reconceptualisations. Then it was the turn of second year students from Design Products and also the MA Interaction Design (with tutor Nina Pope), who wanted an opportunity to work with an MBA student, some of whom had designed service propositions. Students worked in pairs to discuss projects in detail and examine how to take things further, from a design practice perspective and from a management perspective. Finally, the MBA students agreed with their MA pairs a piece of homework from a relevant management discipline to take the project further.
I asked students to consider what design and management practices bring in different ways to invention and design projects; to what extent design can lead and where management disciplines and research activity serve to complement and extend the work of designers. Next week the MBA students will take their turns to present their work to the combined group.

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