In a recent myEducationTimes article, Dr. Mary McBride, the Director of Pratt Institute’s Design Management Program (the graduate program responsible for Catalyst SDR), discusses the importance of creating an economy that is “benign by design.” In the interview, she advocates the need for the redesign of business, reminding us that design is not limited to just products and objects. She explains that the entire world in which we live is the result of design, and that design managers have the skills necessary to bring sustainable strategic advantage to our fragile economy.
In the interview Dr. McBride explains that businesses can achieve significant advantage over their competition by expanding their investments to address the sustainability of our environment and health. Also, by applying the concept of strategic design to everything from financial reporting and operations, to human and resource management, businesses can preserve their wellbeing and most importantly increase their value. Not only does this practice strengthen brands, but also instills trust from consumers and helps to manage risk. Dr. McBride’s philosophy combines design with the concept of the triple bottom line — People, Profit and Planet. Within the DM program she works with her students to create a real-world “triple bottom line by design” strategy that will ensure economic, socially-equitable, and environmentally viable businesses.
Dr. McBride also dispels the notion that designers are not held in high regard in the business world. As she sees it, design is a vital part of the success of a business, particularly one who must cater to their customer base’s preferences for aesthetics, functionality, and price value. She goes on to encourage designers to understand that while they are technical experts in their respective design disciplines, they are also trained in strategic thinking, a valuable skill that can help them position themselves as creative assets in the business world.
Design training typically does not equip designers with the specific language, tools, or framework associated with business strategy. For this reason, educational experiences such as Pratt’s Design Management Program (DMP) are important in helping designers to hone their strategic thinking. By complementing design expertise with an understanding of business strategy, designers gain a holistic perspective of the complexities of business, along with the skill set needed to manage change for businesses faced with a challenging future. Dr. McBride motivates DMP participants to transform overwhelming challenges into exciting opportunities. “Designers are thought of as problems solvers, but they are really people who turn problems into opportunities. We see opportunities where others only see problems.”