Choosing a program based around design thinking

I’ve admission offers from these six schools to pursue design education based around design thinking for this Fall:

  1. Illinois Institute of Design, Chicago - Master of Design/MBA
  2. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) - MFA Design Management
  3. University of Toronto, Rotman School - MBA Integrative Thinking
  4. Indiana University-Purdue University Indiana (IUPUI), Herron School - MFA Visual Communication Design
  5. California College of the Arts - MBA in Design Strategy
  6. Domus Academy, Milan - Master of Business Design

Which school/s from the list best prepares students to work in design consultancies, and has a proven track record for offering internship and post graduate job placements? I would also love to hear from current students or alumni from any of these schools.

Wow, congratulations!

I can’t offer any advice or knowledge on these programs, but I have heard of all but number 4, and all in high regard. Whichever route you choose, be sure to keep us on the boards up to date with your program!

Hey John:

I’ve decided to attend the MFA VC program at Herron School of Art and Design.

I heard Design Thinking is Dead.

Hi Rishabh

Could you please tell me why you have chosen “Herron School - MFA Visual Communication Design” over the other ones?
And how has the course worked out for you ?

am I right in assuming you’ve never studied design, have only a vague idea of what “design thinking” is, and really only want a job in the USA?

I take that as a yes.
go to a first teir city for design like Chicago, focus all your energy on getting an internship, meaning the basic skills needed to work as an entry level designer. repeat, untill you either max out the 7 years allowed to complete a Masters or someone offers to pay for your green card.

Lol, yeah design thinking is dead isn’t it. Seriously, I do think design consultancy is less and less relevant. It’s actually been shown not to be very effective in creating successful innovations, so I wonder how many companies actually invest in external consultancy.

I would at least think that you need to have worked as a designer in order to understand the product creation process. Design is more of a doing thing, 99% practice 1% theory.

I am not sure I agree but this could make for very interesting discussion. Not a consultancy vs. corporate flamefest but more like why corporations do outsource – is it that they don’t have any in-house designers, not enough in-house for all the work, or looking for a specialty that a consultancy might have?

Do you have a link about them being less innovative?

90% of the time

10% of the time

But with that last 10%, I would never go to an ID consultancy. While I could go to one for let’s say an EE, I would go to an EE consultancy instead. If I want a specialty, I want depth, not breadth. I only use an ID consultancy when I don’t have the resources in house.

That does make sense.

This gets me thinking about one of your posts in another thread (I'm a rocket scientist, but I don't necessarily want to be. - #6 by iab) where you mention the average or so timeframe per project and number of projects per year in a both settings. I have heard from a ton of designers that the variety in consultancy setting is what makes it fun, and that also the designer in such a setting will less likely become pigeon-holed. But on the other side of things, does this mean that the in-house designers become more of an expert in something?

I can see how it would be nice to have the “cradle to grave” product development in a corporate setting, meaning the designer would have a real connection to the project, rather than executing a step along the way in the PD process and passing it along (not to put that in any bad light, just up to the personality and interest of the designer and how they work best).

I did the consulting thing nearly 20 years. I have been doing the corporate thing for the last 5. And maybe its because I haven’t been here as long, but I prefer the corporate thing.

While consulting, I touched every phase of npd, but it was over multiple projects. I was never vested in any single project because there was only a few touch points. Even when I kill a project now (and I kill about 5 for every launch), there is more “satisfaction” knowing everything about that project instead of just the consulting bits.

Just my .02.

Thanks iab, great to hear that perspective.

I agree for me personally. Also, the proportion of concepts that become products is much higher being corporate in my experience. As a consultant you almost felt lucky if something went to production that only half watered down the original intent. On the corporate side you have more control or at least influence over what and how something productizes. You are in the room for the compromises, making sure the best job possible is being done to preserve the intent (hopefully) and when something is killed, you are there for that too, and hopefully part of the process. Not every idea that is good on paper is good in reality. It is hard to realize that as a consultant sometimes, but in a corporate environment where you live with consequences of your actions, you understand and even sometimes vote to kill some of your own concepts. In the corporate environment a good design solution can mean fat bonuses for everyone, and a mistake can mean massive QA issues, inventory management problems, delays, lost revenue, missed forecasts… if you don’t go through that, it can be very difficult to truly empathize with your clients.

I’ve consulted for 6.5 years (4.5 years out of school and then 2 years later on) and the second time I was much more productive, which ended up getting me back to corporate so fast. I’ve been in corporate for a total of about 9.5 years, with just too companies, but the experiences were similar.

I recommend spending time on both sides. On the consulting side you will hone your skills, learn how to work fast, and hopefully mix with some very high caliber talent, your time will also be focused almost exclusively on design. In corporate you will learn a host of other skills like organizational management, production issues, understanding a single industry and market very deeply, and including having the accountability I wrote about above. Working on both sides for a bit can be very beneficial.