MBA in Design Strategy
Recognizing the increasing importance of design and its impact on the business world, California College of the Arts (CCA) has launched a new MBA in Design Strategy program, the first of its kind in the United States. Slated to enroll its inaugural class of students in fall 2008, the innovative program will unite the studies of design, finance, and organizational management in a unique curriculum aimed at providing students with tools and strategies to address today’s complex and interconnected market.

CCA Provost Stephen Beal states, “Our goal is to create a center of thought on the synthesis of design and business and to train the next generation of leaders in the rapidly changing business environment.”

The college expects to draw students from the worlds of both business and design. Leaders in these industries realize that effective innovation requires acumen in both fields. In a recent speech, Bruce Nussbaum of BusinessWeek declared, “CEOs and managers must know design thinking to do their jobs. CEOs must be designers and use their methodologies to run companies.” Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO and a member of the program’s advisory council, comments, “Business is a uniquely powerful force for change in the world, and designers have never had more opportunity to create positive impact than they have today by influencing what business does. The more designers understand about business, the more influential they will be.”

Nathan Shedroff has been appointed chair of CCA’s groundbreaking program. Shedroff is a pioneer in experience design, an approach that encompasses multiple senses and examines the common characteristics in all media that make experiences successful; he also works in the related fields of interaction design and information design. As a business consultant, he helps companies build better, more meaningful experiences for their customers. Shedroff speaks and teaches internationally, and he has written extensively on design and business issues. He authored Experience Design 1 in 2001, and his latest book, Making Meaning: How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Customer Experiences (co-written with two members of the Silicon Valley–based strategic consultancy Cheskin) explores how companies can create products and services specifically to evoke meaning in the eyes of their audiences and customers.

The program’s approach encompasses performance, strategy, innovation, and the encouragement of meaningful, sustainable social change. The curriculum combines lectures and seminars in business strategy, organizational development, management communication, leadership, entrepreneurship, and sustainability with practical studios and sponsored projects that put theory into practice in a dynamic, team-centric experience. Multiple media and approaches are used to explore customer and market needs, challenge assumptions, devise effective solutions, and communicate opportunities across a wide range of stakeholders.

To offer maximum flexibility to working professionals, the program is conducted through five once-a-month, four-day weekends of instruction and interaction, with online and networked study between these residencies. The schedule allows participants from all over the United States to maintain their careers while keeping in close contact with team members, faculty, and program staff.

The program has dedicated studio space on CCA’s San Francisco campus for local students. Also available are model-making facilities, metal and wood shops, a laser cutter, a 3D-prototyping machine, paint booths, and studios for editing digital media, film, video, and sound.