13 June 2006

MBA+Design - Brilliant, simply brilliant!

An MBA, along with an advanced design degree, it’s brilliant.

Those of you who know me will get that I am being a bit tongue in cheek here, having just spent three years obtaining an MBA and an MA in interaction design and design research. I am not brilliant, and did not have a grand vision of the next hot profession. I simply followed the path that made sense for me… I followed my personal vision. It happens that it coincides nicely with an emerging trend.

Talk at the IIT/ID strategy06 conference, the new publication by Business Week – IN, and the recent Email from IIT, all announcing the new combination MBA + Design degree is the topic of the day.

The vision and establishment of this program by Patrick Whitney may well be the legacy that punctuates the distinguished career of a design visionary. It is not that it is a revolutionary idea, but more that the timing is right and that IIT, and specifically Patrick, are capable of pulling it off. Patrick has long published counsel to designers regarding how to build skill sets that increase their value to business.

MIT and several other major universities have established relationships between the business and design school before. Even the University of Kansas is deep into the process of building a combination degree. But IIT has a unique reputation at the graduate level. For the motivated and insightful designer… this degree will easily pay for itself.

I am biased here. But, design thinking has much to offer the business world. And business acumen can lend tremendous clout to the designer. The toolbox of the educated design thinker is different from the typical MBA (who are graduating at an alarming rate, but not in the ridiculous numbers of design undergraduates.) As design thinkers we need to speak the language, learn the perspective, and work shoulder to shoulder at the executive level in order to chart our own path.

Side note: I have to commend Stanford for their recent announcement regarding their MBA program. Most programs are generalist degrees with a fairly rote schedule of core and elective courses. Stanford has opened their curriculum in order to create custom programs that take into account a student’s prior experience and future goals. This will not only be a differentiator for Stanford, but a real advantage for their students.