Wednesday, May 09, 2007

MBA Design Leadership elective - week 3

In the third and final week of our MBA students' joint project with MA students from the Royal College of Art, we again visited the college for an engaging and enjoyable afternoon. In the intervening week, the design students took forward their initial ideas, several of which had been iterated in the larger group. The MBAs also had a role in each product/service proposal - using frameworks and analytical tools from their background to contribute to and extend the underlying concept, often at a very early stage. At this workshop, the MBAs did a one-minute pitch for each project, and then the class voted on which three they wanted to hear in more depth. This voting mechanism - primarily decided on because of the limited time available - brought some competition to the proceedings which is (in my experience) not so overt in RCA crits.

In the ensuing discussion, students talked about their encounter with each others' methods and processes in this short project which several saw as having a huge divide between them. Some business students were astonished how quickly the designers were able to generate and develop ideas, for example going from what seemed (to some MBAs) incomprehensible manifestos in week 1 to a product prototype in week 2, or in daily iterations of the project between weeks 2 and 3. There was also a question about how useful 'MBA thinking' could be at the very early stage of these projects.

To give the MBA students a different insight into design-inspired innovation, we then had three presentations by graduating second-year students from three departments with very developed projects. From MA Design Products, Ian Ferguson described the development of his software tool for rapid prototyping machines to enable them to produce objects with more heterogeneity (resembling bone, wood or foam). From MA Industrial Design Engineering, Michael Korn and Komal Vora presented their new design for a fashion boot aimed at people who find it hard to put on shoes, a project which has already won a business plan competition. From MA Design Interactions, Jess Charlesworth talked about her personlized futures methods that draw on her internship at the DTI futures lab.

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