Exploring the unknown territory

In last month’s NextD interview with Zollverein School’s president Prof. Ralph Bruder you might have noticed Bruder’s reference to Roger Martin from the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management in Toronto.

By the same token Roger Martin has challenged the Business School side by integrating a design curriculum into a business administration programme Zollverein School is challenging the classical MBA landscape by setting up a complete new MBA programme integrating design thinking and business thinking into one curriculum.

However it was Design Management veteran Peter Gorb who installed the first design (management) curriculum at the London Business School in the late 1970’s who said:

“And what designers need to learn, and this is the most important thing, is the language of the business world. Only by learning that language can you effectively voice the arguments for design.”

And this is clearly something what students will learn at Zollverein School. Part of this learning is entering what Roger Martin recently called “Hostile Territory” in his lecture at the “strategy06” conference of the IIT Institute of Design.

Even though I’ve listened to the podcast of Martin’s speech (10:53 | 5,2 MB) a while ago I finally got inspired to write this posting by a statement of a designer at last weekend’s KISD conference in Cologne. He told the audience that he has recently attended a major German management conference and he felt quite shocked to see that he was the only designer among business managers! –

And according to my perspective he’s right since still, too often I see designers being quite busy with defining their field and complaining about not being recognized by the business side instead of taking the “unknown territory” of business as a challenge. Clearly there is a need that managers need to learn how to think like designers in terms of (wicked) problem solving, but since (almost) every design decision in the end is a business decision the first step needs to be done by the design side.

Fortunately the organizers of the strategy06 conference set up a comprehensive website with lots of resources like presentation files, podcasts and (you bet!) a blog. However you might want to start reading the blog posting by Carol Coletta where she summarizes her thoughts on Roger’s talk. Or you want to listen to Roger Martin’s speech from here and afterwards read his interview on “Designing Decisions”.

After all if you’d like to share your view on “Designing in Hostile Territory” please drop a comment here on this blog, send me an email: zschool (at) design-management (dot) de or write a guest posting (pls. contact me by email as well).

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