What if students were trained to innovate…

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We are currently experiencing radical changes in industrial and marketing paradigms, in a world that has become unstable due to international conflicts. The “scientific management” on which industrial structures have been organized since the middle of the 19th century is no longer sufficient to govern organizations. For many companies, “doing better and better what we know how to do” is not enough. It is now necessary to be permanently capable of “doing something else with what we know how to do”. It is this paradigm of innovation, with its strategic and management challenges, that must be taught to students today in all schools and in all disciplines.

Educating people’s consciences

The word “imagine” is etymologically connected to the word “image”. To imagine is to produce images. Representing and drawing one’s ideas is a skill that can be learned. It is a question of linking the hand and the mind to define what it means to be human. For too long, the managerial organization has valued the mind over the hand, and manual work, in order to design the “future”. At a time when intelligent robots are invading our lives, or when the dehumanization of work and social relations is entering a new phase, it is urgent to question “what it means to be human” now that machines are intelligent and sensitive. This is probably the major issue that organizations must address and that students should be made aware of. Because the innovative companies of tomorrow will be those that guarantee this balance between man and machine, a balance over which the former will not lose control.

There are many models to help innovation, “design thinking” is one of them. It presents a methodology for going further in the representation of change. But it is above all the students’ awareness that needs to be educated. “Doing something else with what we know how to do” should be at the heart of all strategic thinking. What will the Post Office do tomorrow when it can no longer sort mail because there is none left to sort? What will insurance companies do when cars are remote-controlled and there are no more accidents? These are the themes that should be included in the curriculum of management schools.

Innovation and creation at the heart of design training

Design is a mediation between creation and innovation. Creation is imagination, fantasy, the expression of an irrepressible desire to compensate for what we lack: beauty, passion, values… Innovation is their tangible, real, objective representations, those that can be found on the market when they are applied to products, to spatial planning, to graphic design, to physical or virtual services.

Design consists in representing the uses of tomorrow, in making them understandable and acceptable in order to better anticipate, foresee and prepare. From an economic point of view, design is used to prepare the development strategies of companies that are thinking about their future.

The designer’s responsibility is to predict how we will live tomorrow in a logic of progress. He is not Zeus, he is Prometheus, the one who steals fire from the sky and from creation to put it at the service of nature. Zeus is moral, Prometheus is ethical, he is accountable for his actions. The designer is a humanist through and through, who asks himself the question of how to adapt to the radical transformations (ecological, technological, economic, sociological, digital, protein-based, etc) of which we are the actors. It is a question of living better tomorrow.

Training the designers, leaders and managers responsible for tomorrow

Over and above creation, and this ability to draw and represent, the designer is an expert in sharing. Because from a management point of view, it is a matter of bringing together engineers, marketers, financiers, philosophers and sociologists to work together on a vision: what kind of society, what kind of world tomorrow? As far as the economy is concerned, and in markets that are both globalized and yet constrained, the designer will make sure to express his or her own cultural identity to make a difference. It is not a question of becoming a global designer in a global world, but a unique designer in a global world. One’s own culture must be enriched by the culture of others to become unique. It is difference that justifies diversity. And diversity is the key to tolerance.

4 thoughts on “What if students were trained to innovate…”

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