Friday, November 2, 2007

Rotmans School of Management, Toronto: Business School that is steeped in Design Understanding

Image: Six Recent covers of the Rotman Magazine
Rotmans School of Management, Toronto: Business School that is steeped in Design Understanding
Besides the KaosPilot, a small school located in Aarhus, Denmark that I wrote about on this very blog (see 22 July 2007 post) there is another cool school that has been seriously using design thinking and action as their primary tool for preparing management students to face the challenges of the emerging creative economy. This is the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management in The University of Toronto. Since 1998, when their Dean – Roger Martin – came to the school from industry with his insights that design was something that all successful business leaders used intuitively, he decided to articulate an innovative path forward in management education by applying this insight to the design of business programmes. They have come a long way since then and the efforts are bearing fruit if we look at the acknowledgement that is coming from the business press.

Businessweek and Fortune magazine have both already rated the school among the top ten schools which is a hard fought position of recognition for leadership in a highly competitive space of business education across the globe. In my view they are already ahead of the best since they have seen the value of design and innovation and have managed to integrate the lessons into the programmes offered to their students. The future is already here. I would like to see this interest in design and creativity enter into the fabric of management education in all our Indian schools and only then do I believe will we be able to achieve the universal mission of quality of life that the "Eames India Report" had called for way back in 1958 when the NID was being contemplated in India. (download Eames Report pdf 359kb)

BusinessWeek has once again recognized the contributions of the Rotman Dean, Roger Martin and he has been named a “B-School All Star” – According to BusinessWeek – “Martin's micro-innovation mantra has shot through business circles worldwide: To succeed, he says, corporate managers should become flexible problem-solvers, not sophisticated numbers-crunchers.“ – In 2005, his inventive teachings, which meld business and design thinking, earned him a spot on BusinessWeek's list of "innovation gurus."

Rotman School has adopted a policy of integrating design into management education and to quote an official communiqué of the school which says – “The University of Toronto's Joseph L. Rotman School of Management has set out to become one of the world's top tier business schools. Located in North America's 3rd largest financial centre, the Rotman School is taking an innovative approach to management education, built around Integrative Thinking™ and Business Design™”, which will amply illustrate my point.

The Rotman focus on innovation and creativity has been able to attract great faculty to their school and now Richard Florida, the guru of the Creative Economy fame, has joined forces with the school to build its forward movement, as reported by the school.

Image: More covers – a must see list
Will the numerous Indian schools of management take note of these moves taking place far away, half way across the globe, and will the Government of India listen to these examples and relent to include design at the core of its planning agenda? Only time will tell, since we can only hope and wait to see if these messages sink in and bear fruit eventually, which I do hope is sooner than later. The lessons from the Rotman School of Management are thankfully available for all to see through their remarkable programme of publication that has been sustained over the last ten years with three issues each year, each addressing a specific theme or industry sector and each exploring in depth how design thinking and innovation can make a significant impact across these sectors, very impressive indeed. All the issues of their magazine can be downloaded from their website at this link here. The image above would just give a glimpse of what to expect, go get it.

Great stuff. Very stimulating indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ranjan,

    Hope this finds you well. I'm joining Rotman par-time MBA in august. I and Sneha met you on our trip to India this year in Jan regarding your book "Handmade in India."

    We are from the Gandhinagar campus.
    Perhaps this will help you recollect:

    Hope to keep in touch.

    Avinash Raj


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