Senior practitioner Kate Rutter of the experience design firm Adaptive Path recently interviewed Nathan Shedroff, an experience designer and founder of the brand new MBA in Design Strategy at the California College of the Arts, on the evolving relationship between design and business.
"Design and business aren't new," Shedroff says, "though the way they relate to each other at this point in time are."
Though they discuss a variety of topics related to that developing relationship, this exchange emphasized design thinking as business process rather than a business end.
[KR]: It seems that a common attribute of [programs that teach "design thinking"] is to blur the boundaries between fields, and to foster the ability to synthesize…to cross-pollinate concepts and ideas across different functional areas. With this trend towards generalization, how do you avoid teaching people to be, for lack of a better phrase, Jack-or-Jane-of-all-trades but master of none?
[NS]: This is a great question. There’s no way we can teach students everything they need to know.... Their learning is life-long so the best we can do is frame some of these perspectives and skills for them, give them some experience, and inspire them to continue the process. We’ve prioritized, in the curriculum, the skills, knowledge, and experiences we think they will need the most, but it’s just a start. Besides, there’s only so much you can learn in school. At some point, you need to learn 'on-the-job' — whatever that job may be. So, we’re exposing our students to a variety of skills but with unified perspectives (design-led innovation, meaningful experience, sustainability, and visionary leadership) so that their deep skills will follow these lines. They will be expert innovation leaders and will be able to apply these skills to any domain or challenge.
Rutter's byline says she embraces the term "specialized generalist." I dig that; it reminds me of Steve Hardy's term "creative generalist."
Hat tip: Putting People First