The Design Strategy Course at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco has now been running for six years, and has become one of the most reputed business degrees for innovation. As we were setting up the course, we considered several possibilities for the structure of the MBA, and learned several things along the way.
Originally, we looked at partnering with an established business program. However, we decided to “go it alone” when we realized that they were simply looking to sprinkle some design thinking courses into their current curriculum. Even now, many degrees in universities that offer “design”-informed (business and otherwise) degrees, take this approach: a few electives that aren’t connected to or reinforced by the rest of the courses or faculty in their students’ experience.
Traditional business education is nearly bankrupt—at least for many more programs than people expect or suspect. Swapping in a few new electives doesn’t create an integrated experience and often results—I kid you not—in students hearing from faculty in their “real” business courses, something like: “Forget all that nonsense you learned in that class. It’s not true.”
Sadly the reverse is often the case. How Economics, Accounting, Leadership, and Operations are taught at a surprising number of schools is scandalous and beyond antiquated. Students, routinely, aren’t prepared for the real world—present or future—as they will experience it in their careers and their learning experience is often conflicting, confusing, and at odds with their value. No wonder traditional programs have to shore themselves up with crash courses in Ethics and Sustainability. It’s because these are missing throughout every other course!
What we found, early on in the development of the DMBA programs, was that if we wanted to design a next-generation business education, we needed to do it ourselves, away from the traditional expectations and biases. The learning experience had to be different, the partnerships and connections to industry, the way we describe and promote the programs, and the way we help our students describe what they know and what they can do. Of course, the proof won’t be clear for another five years, most likely, but the early signs tell us we’re doing something right.
– Nathan Shedroff, Porgram Chair, MBA in Design Strategy, California College of the Arts.
– CSM MBA
– California College of the Arts MBA in Design Strategy