The Future Of Management (and Education)

And the State Of Design Thinking

by Idris Mootee

The Future of Management (and Education)I get a lot of requests to speak to the business and design communities about the state of “design thinking” and how it is being practiced. Talking about what that means is one thing but practicing it in the real world is a different thing. Idea Couture is probably the first large scale experiment built from day one to apply design thinking in the most sophisticated setting.

I see Idea Couture as a work in progress (and will be for another 3 years) that serves as a real world laboratory for fostering collaboration between the information design, engineering, foresight, visual art and industrial design in applied complex business problem solving. Our firm practices reflective collaboration – bringing interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams together to visually model complex systems and industry structures to yield new insights and foresights. The results improve the quality of our thinking in a predominately right-brain biased world of decision-making.

I like to think of our offices as a global network of “encounter spaces” that assembles design thinkers from differing disciplines together as teams to work on specific projects, share insights, and uncover foresights. It is a collaboration among the arts + design + economics + technology in support of clients who are looking to create meaningful differentiation, economic value and strategic impact through design thinking and design doing. It is basically the future of management. And the future of education.

I see serious challenges with people graduating from design schools (as well as business schools) and I wonder what they are teaching these people at some schools today. The missing interdependency of broader functions and the lack of visual sensibilities are impacting the quality of graduates.

Through art, students can learn to have alternative contact with any kind of knowledge or information about different thematic topics. When a student is interacting with a piece of art, he/she can live a holistic experience, with his mind by the symbols, with his/her body by the senses and with his/her heart by the emotion evoked. A piece of art is a very special because it carries the human history and provoke ways of developing perspectives, which is lacking in MBA education.

Teaching is an art, engineering is an art, urban planning is an art, photography is an art, business is an art, and design is an art. All have form as well as content, like a piece of art; therefore, a business person, a technology architect or a school teacher can be an artist, too. Both jobs can be creative, imaginative and communicative.

A new generation of hybrid-thinkers (art+business) is extremely valuable to companies and these people will be hot potatoes. Why?

They are hard to find and they are best positioned to solve many of the complex or wicked problems that are way over the head of people trained with one skill set. These hybrid or design thinkers (design doesn’t mean design as a craft taught in many design school) are the creative forces behind creative industries. They are not the creative types from ad agencies; they are real strategic creative thinkers.

At IC, our jobs are solving complex problems, helping our clients to deal with massive changes in consumer behavior, technological disruptions, global competition and many will face extinction unless they figure out how to innovate their way out of hyper-competitive landscape. That’s why we are recruiting people that we can train to become hybrid thinkers or design thinkers. I use the term interchangeably. At the root of hybrid thinking is the ability to transfer – to use knowledge from one discipline in another. That’s what I teach them to do everyday.

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Idris MooteeIdris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.

Idris Mootee




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  1. Lynda Koster on January 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Incredible. There are some things that we come across in our reading that are truly engaging. This stopped me in my tracks and I actually exhaled when I read it. Thank you. – Lynda

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