Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Design in business education/business in design education

I joined a workshop of academics held at the Department of Trade and Industry in London, organized by the UK Design Council, as part of an an iniative to follow up the recent Cox Review on creativity in British business which had a considerable focus on design. My interest was on the recommendations for higher education, particularly the recommendations to have stronger links between design education and management education; closer links with small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) and the creation of centres of excellence.

As I understand it there are no immediate plans to set up an initiative with new public investment to support these recommendations. Rather, the discussion is among higher education institutions which are already working in this area - some of them design schools (such as the RCA with its long-standing relationship with Imperial College, London) and some of them business schools with design initiatives (my own context). For some, the emphasis is on innovation, creativity and entrepreneuship; for others the focus is on design practice and its links to and engagement with other specialists. A guest speaker in the afternoon showed one model - a teaching initiative created by Manuel Sosa, assistant professor of technology management at INSEAD recently written up by Business Week. His MBA elective in Strategies for Product and Service Development is about managing innovation from an interdisciplinary perspective and now involves 8-10 design students from Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, California) who spend a term at INSEAD and take classes with the MBAs. Later, some of the MBAs visit Pasadena for a week's field trip. Students work together to develop product and service ideas using design techniques as well as management techniques.

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