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Wednesday, 07 January 2015 15:10

Kendall College launches design-centered thinking cohort

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Kendall College of Art and Design thinks that for West Michigan to continue ramping up its reputation as a hub for design-based companies, it must make clear what “design-centered thinking” is all about.

To help further the concept, the Grand Rapids-based Kendall College is launching the Integrating for Impact “De-mystifying the Language and Practice of Design and Innovation” Professional Workshop Series beginning Feb. 5. The program’s goal is to help traditional business executives — non-designers — better understand the broader design process. Capacity for the pilot series is limited to between 10 and 24 participants.

“The idea (for Integrating for Impact) is to build capacity for design and innovation in West Michigan,” said Christine Albertini, president of Grand Rapids-based Verve Business Consulting LLC and one of the developers for the continuing education workshop’s curriculum. “This workshop is trying to demystify the language and all the talk on design thinking and be a hands-on opportunity to learn design and innovation.”

The curriculum is largely designed for managers in a variety of business sectors, as well as directors in the nonprofit or social space, Albertini added.

: The program begins Feb. 5 and includes four
sessions that meet for a full day on Thursdays and
a half-day on Fridays. The series concludes March 6.
The course fee is $3,000. For more information
visit the Integrating for Impact page.

Long-time design-focused companies such as Herman Miller Inc. or Steelcase Inc. are now being joined in the region by global brands such as Newell Rubbermaid Inc., which opened its Design Center in Kalamazoo last year. Economic developers say the presence of a company like Newell Rubbermaid can go a long way toward making the region viable for the design sector.

Kendall College’s Integrating for Impact workshop is not alone in West Michigan in helping non-designer business executives learn more about the creative design process. Holland-based New North Center for Design in Business has similar cohorts to teach design-centered thinking.

Seth Starner, the president of NewNorth, said he thinks it’s a good thing for the region that more organizations are starting to teach design.

“It’s good to see Kendall move in this direction and start to embrace a more human-centered design approach,” Starner said. “Tools are easy to come by and use individually. However, the practice of (human centered design) is more than a combination of tools or a process one can just follow. It is a powerful approach to solving complex problems which businesses are encountering daily. This is why there is such a growing interest in the space.”

Starner told MiBiz that one pitfall for design programs is that if the curriculum isn’t “rigorous” enough, participants will often give up on the process.

“My fear is that some will learn some tools, try using them, have a bad experience and conclude HCD doesn’t work for business,” Starner said.

However, Albertini thinks there are plenty of advantages to Kendall’s approach, noting that she believes participants will see quick results.

“The value proposition is that it results in immediate effectiveness,” Albertini said. “There’s no question that using these tools allows an organization to arrive at much more effective and sustainable solutions than they do without using these techniques. … People want more than to read books. They want hands-on practice.”


Read 8533 times Last modified on Friday, 09 January 2015 08:44