“ Finding that sweet spot where business, technology and design intersect really resonated with me. Initially, I was very focused on creating an object; after gradid, my focus shifted to design in the context of a larger ecosystem.”
Claire Gerhardt ’07
“Strategic innovation” is how we define our program’s design methodology.
At its core, strategic innovation takes a systems-level view and strives to balance the business, technological and human aspects of any challenge. It’s a creative process and a disciplined skill set for creating empathetic solutions to complex and unstructured problems. And it’s a broadly applicable approach that allows designers—and the organizations they work with—to be resilient and to grow.
The role of designers is shifting dramatically within enterprise. Companies used to employ designers to make their offerings more appealing or functional—usually long after executives had made plans for what to offer their customers. Today, as organizations navigate hyper-competitive markets, they are also looking to design at the earliest stages to help steer them to the future. Tomorrow’s designers will add essential value to business by identifying areas of expansion and opportunity, designing organizational change and inspiring and leading transdisciplinary teams to innovate for a better future.
In order to succeed in this new environment, designers must understand, embrace and incorporate business principles early on in their thinking and processes. That is why our program stresses that students’ ideas should take the form of fully-integrated business models. And in order to create meaningful solutions for a rapidly changing world, we as industrial designers must draw upon a wide range of experiences. That is why both our faculty and students come from a variety of educational, cultural and professional backgrounds.
As a graduate program, we engage in ongoing research to advance knowledge in our field and to continuously improve our methods. We design with a consciousness that our products and innovations exist in a larger social and ecological context. And because our methodologies focus on the process of solving problems, they can be broadly applied to a variety of issues, whether they exist in environments, products, transportation, networks, media or beyond.
We’re confident our graduates receive the theories, knowledge and practice necessary to emerge as the types of creative leaders our evolving world increasingly needs.