We interviewed Natalie Nixon, Director of the Strategic Design MBA Program at Philadelphia University about their event for the 2014 DesignPhiladelphia Festival, Service Design Camp.
Tell us about your event, Service Design Camp. What can festival-goers expect? What do you hope they take away from the event?
The service design camp is structured as an “unconference” (http://transparencycamp.org/about/tips/) . This means that the attendees get to lead a workshop or a conversation that interests them- as long as it relates to the design of services. Topics are collected at the very beginning on a large wall grid- get there on time so that you get to place your idea in a time/place quadrant with a Post-It!
It will be cool to explore the ways that we can design the intangible: we can design a better food eating experience, or transportation system, or ways that people wait for the bus, or ways that people access their healthcare options- we can even design the learning experiences we have in elementary school and universities.
So whether you are interested in healthcare, food, transportation, or a retail experience- this afternoon on October 17 will give you the chance to explore the redesign of such services and experiences with other Philadelphians- led by those Philadelphians! You can lead a workshop, a conversation, or present a project you have been working on.
How did you get the idea?
The idea came from a couple of different places. First, I have attended 2 “unconferences” to date, and I loved how they allowed for the audience, the participants to control the content and topics. In many ways, the unconference format takes advantage of the “hallway moments” of traditional conferences, those times where you have a great conversation with a cluster of people based on a theme of the conference.
I also like how you end up learning surprising things from people you least expect- it could be someone you were sitting next to, or someone with whom you work who superbly leads a workshop or discussion around a really interesting topic they have been contemplating.
The other place the idea for this conference comes from is the work that Strategic Design MBA students have been doing on the Future of Work. The reality is that the ways we will work will be driven by more crowdsourcing, crowd funding and co-working spaces. Why not organize a half day session that mimics those processes and values when it comes to thinking through how we deliver services, and how we might re-design those services? The Impact Hub is the perfect place to do this Service Design Camp! We love the collaborative, open space it provides.
Can you talk about the Strategic Design MBA program - how are you involved, how long has the program been involved? Is it a response to the growth of coworking spaces?
The Strategic Design MBA program launched in January 2013. I am the director of the program and our 3rd cohort began September 2014- our first cohort will graduate this December 2014! We are an executive style MBA program “for Hybrid Thinkers”. We integrate the best of business school (analytical metrics and quantitative measures) with the best of design school (creativity, qualitative research methods, etc) by integrating design thinking and systems thinking into a really cool curriculum- 10 courses over 22 months, that meet over alternating weekends.
The program was developed in response to an observation that there is a need for graduate business education that prepares people for VUCA environments- that is environments that are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. We can’t on the one hand acknowledge that organizations and their leaders need to navigate ambiguity, and on the other hand teach linear methods. Our curriculum is project-based and collaborative. We are affirming that strategy is inherently a creative endeavor. Our students are quite diverse- from healthcare, design, technology, engineering, transportation- and also the non-profit sector which is so important!
How has Philadelphia (in the past ten years) shaped the program?
Philadelphia is a dynamic city that due to its scale and scope doesn’t get weighed down by some of the assumptions that similar cities might. There is still a lot of grit here, it is a manageable city; those are both ingredients for anyone who wants to take a chance on doing business differently.
What are you planning for the future? More crowd-sourced events?
We are planning an event at Vynamic in conjunction with the Design Management Institute for November 5. We will do a screening of a talk about customer experience and branding, and then have a discussion. This will be an after work event. We also will be having quarterly Future of Work events at The Hub. The Strategic Design MBA will also be partnering with the Arts & Business Council on some pretty cool events this fall and winter- stay tuned!