Idris Mootee recently commented on the topic of business strategy and design convergence, what he called “Integrative Creativity”, over at his Innovation Playground blog. Tempted to comment on his post, I opted to weigh in here instead, given the natural soapbox (right brain/left brain) this blog affords.
Like two slow trains on two very long tracks, design and business strategy have been heading towards each other on intersecting paths for some time now. In the last 5-10 years they seem to be picking up speed and they are finally starting to get close. Some design schools are teaching how design can better integrate into business. Some B-Schools are teaching design and innovation. Few schools are thoroughly integrating the two, but it seems only a matter of (a little more) time.
But more importantly, individuals from one side of the fence (or brain) are clearly attempting to straddle it fairly often these days. Business executives are seeing design as more than lengthy processes and “shiny” deliverables. And designers, from all disciplines (graphic design, advertising, ID, interaction design etc) are realizing the need to integrate their thinking and environment with corporate and business strategy.
This group of “straddlers” is the most important in the short term. Show me an MBA or seasoned business executive who is newly interested in brand identity, sketching or experience design and I’ll show you a business organization that is going to soon change their perspective on any number of topics. Find creative and design professionals who go back to school to get an MBA, and you’ll have found individuals more suited to understand that which they create, and who can work better across functional units, bringing more iterative processes and methodologies to bear.
In the long term, schools will bring these disciplines together more and more. But school, especially undergraduate studies, is a place to discover who you are and where your passions and talents lie. As a college instructor for more than 10 years, what I clearly saw in my classrooms was a funneling of energies to an individual’s area of interest or skill. This funneling would eventually lead a student to declare a major. Although exposure to both right and left-brain subject matter is essential, it won’t significantly change an individual’s desire to do what they do best. However, it will provide them with the foundation to switch gears and straddle brain hemispheres more easily. In the future, these individuals won’t struggle nearly as much as those of us trying to do the same today.
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