We appreciated the on-target blog post by Daniel Araya and Heather McGowan citing the need for broader recognition of a Design Learning Imperative.
Araya and McGowan touch on and recognize many themes well know in the organizational culture building business including: continuous change, adaptability, agility, problem finding, problem framing, innovation, opportunities, and design learning.
“The truth is that we can no longer afford to focus on graduating learners armed only with predetermined skills and (already existing) knowledge. The workforce is becoming far too global, too digital, and increasingly too self-employed. We must instead refocus on cultivating creativity, to include not only problem solving, but also problem finding and problem framing. Students and learners need experience with exploration, discovery, re-orientation, and most importantly, design thinking.“
Evidently not so well known by the authors is the tricky part of design thinking methodology realities today. The attributes described by Araya and McGowan are those not of downstream situational design thinking methods where the vast majority of the graduate design schools remain focused, but rather of upstream meta design thinking methods where a still relatively small community of practices, some of which have executive skill-building academies themselves exist.
The starting points for upstream and downstream methods are quite different.
We could not agree more that challenge framing is extremely important but the fact is that teaching proactive upstream problem framing in the context of complex fuzzy challenges still remains relatively rare in the graduate design schools. Don’t ask the graduate design schools but the downstream situational methods have challenge type and solution type assumptions baked within. Upstream methods begin with no preconceived challenge or solution paths.
We certainly agree with Araya’s and McGowan’s observation: “Navigating this terrain requires adaptation and re-orientation.” This includes graduate design education itself.