The world’s best D-Schools. Huh?

When I first looked at it I felt “this is a cool list of design schools” listed at business week. Then reality started to sink in, D-School? Wait, nobody calls a design school “D-School” except a business school teaching design.

As usual my cynical self always looks for who does the listing and what are the selection criteria? Well it is a Business Week magazine report and they did say:

The top design programs according to BusinessWeek’s expert panel.

No wonder the use term “D-School” (perhaps incorrectly) and a surprising number of business management schools on the list. Gosh, I really hate this name D-School”. It has so many wrong connotations.

Not only that, if you look at their selection criteria and their selection panel, I find the information potentially skewed towards very US centric or European based courses, simply because the panel does not include any of the top Austral-Asian design leaders from China, South East Asia, Australia and Japan. So how can you call it “The Global List”?

I really have a lot of mixed feelings about this new business trend. It does goes back to the need for designers to get over themselves and be happy that design has been taken into mainstream and part of corporate strategy. But…and with me there is always a but.

On one hand I’m happy that design and design strategy is being accepted into the fold of corporations, on the other hand I’m troubled that the definition of “design” is being transformed into something else. Not that we have figured out what the definition of design is at this time anyway.

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Wow if she is going so am I!

My concerns are more a practical issue for their graduates. If design is going to be “morphed” into something that even business schools teach, then my problems are more of qualifications. How do you determine someone is a designer in the true sense of the word? This especially becomes important when everybody seems to be able to do “design”. This is just like the problem with the Interior Design profession with Architects, builders, and contractors.

Lets say you graduated in a degree in design from a business school, will you be able to conceptualize a product and have the design skills to take it to manufacturing and finally to the market? Or do you join Marketing and do strategic market planning? What do we call your job title and how will you be paid? Can you really think of business changing ideas, without the experience to execute it?

You will really need to find a company with an innovation or strategic planning department or else graduates will get pigeon holed into project management positions, where they become managers with an understanding of function but no real skills to get the job done.

Frankly if you want to do Industrial Design, do pick the multi-disciplinary approach that exposes a design student to the business and engineering schools or subjects. As I think the business based “D-Schools” will potentially miss out the 66% (Design and Engineering) on the subject matter. As one commenter cleverly put at the Business Week site this will “benefit business schools more”, and I totally agree as it’s a bid for business schools to stay relevant. Also if I may add to this comment and suggest “The Best Design and Business Innovations schools” would be a much better title for this Global list.

Now let me go sign up for an MBA in Design management…

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