Design Thinking is a very hot topic at the moment. With all the chaos of digital disruption, companies of all sizes are faced with an ever increasing list of problems.
Design Thinking is a method that uncovers and solves problems, and businesses are very keen to employ graduates with Design Thinking experience.
Four years ago, Macleay College embedded Design Thinking into our entrepreneurship curriculum. Through our research, we found that Design Thinking was primarily taught by other academic institutions at MBA level, with some introducing it in the latter stages of a degree.
While experiencing Design Thinking after three or more years of traditional, lecture-style education is exciting for students, we believe that a more linear, sequential mindset has already been formed.
This ‘rational’, ‘educated’ way of thinking makes it difficult for students to truly flourish in a Design Thinking classroom as it can appear without direction and a little chaotic at times. “Trust the process”, and “Be comfortable being uncomfortable” are common phrases we repeat to our students.
As a smaller, more agile institution we quickly integrated it into both our diploma and degree programs so that all business students, irrespective of their specialisation, experienced Design Thinking.
The decision to introduce Design Thinking wasn’t based solely on a perceived competitive advantage for the College, but more so on the desire to nurture a designer’s mindset within our students.
Macleay’s deep connection to the various industries it serves also made it clear that organisations were increasingly utilising Design Thinking as an essential competitive advantage.
Through dialogue with our industry partners we realised that they not only needed graduates with these fundamental skills, but also the necessary mindset nurtured by Design Thinking. Words like passionate, empathetic, creative, curious, collaborative, problem-solvers and risk-takers were consistently mentioned, so we were confident that Design Thinking should be introduced to help foster that mindset.
The students absolutely love the classes as it feels more like being back in an art class. Furthermore, they get to uncover and solve real-world problems within the industry which they wish to work in. This is truly as fun and practical as education gets!
Their ability to connect to industry, build their personal brand and showcase their Design Thinking skills to potential employers before they leave Macleay is vitally important when getting out into the competitive job market.
Interestingly, a recently published report highlighted that companies who invested in design saw a 211% return on investment.
Statistics such as this clearly highlight that it is a valuable competitive edge for innovative companies, and at Macleay we see it as a competitive advantage for our students.
Dr. Jane Hession. Head of Faculty, Business, Macleay College.