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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Design in Business

Incorporating design into business




THE programme offered by the Rotman School of Management in Canada is unique as it merges the practices of business and design. The school sees great value in the designer's approach to solving problems - the integrative way of thinking and problem-solving that can be applied to all components of business. "By embracing design methods and mindsets, an enterprise cannot only design new products, services and experiences, they can fundamentally drive the design of economics in support of dramatic new growth strategies," said Heather Fraser, director of the Design Initiative at Rotman School of Management, which falls under the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking. 

  Fraser, who is also an adjunct professor, joined the Rotman School in 2005 after over 25 years in industry. She was in India recently to attend a conference organised by the Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMS). "This is a good time to be in India considering its dynamic economy. There is also great scope to apply business design," informed Fraser. Business design at Rotman is not to be confused with design done by advertising agencies. "It's more in line with the work done by engineers," said Fraser. Great design is characterised by what the school calls 'Integrative Thinking' and the application of these principles to business practices is what they call 'Business Design.' 

   In her role as director of the Design Initiative, Fraser is responsible for leading the development and integration of designrelated initiatives, including collaboration with design schools and practitioners, infusion of design principles into the MBA curriculum, and development of executive/corporate design workshops. She also heads Designworks, an entity dedicated to delivering customised executive workshops, student learning programmes and business design advice to corporations and organisations. 

   She said: "Our MBA students have the option to opt for business design. They do part of it during term-time and during the three months of summer vacation they take up projects with Designworks." Whether the goal is to develop new products or services, create new ways of marketing to customers, or reinvent an entire business model, "design thinking helps get bigger ideas, faster and more efficiently," said Fraser. She added: "By incorporating the design experience into our curriculum, we offer students a unique and valuable opportunity to learn new ways to tackle complex challenges in deeper and more holistic ways." 

  Students learn by means of a process Fraser called the 'Three gears of design.' These are namely user understanding - a deep dive with a broad lens or gaining a much broader perspective of the target audience and the market; concept visualisation - ideation, prototyping and user evaluation; and strategic business design - activity system design and evaluation. The experience, she said, helps create innovative and bigger thinkers who are willing to look and think out-of-the-box. "Something that is applicable and useful all over the world but can be especially beneficial in the Indian context," added Fraser.





   Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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