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By Lee Coomber, creative director EMEA, Lippincott | on September 05, 2016


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explains why blending design thinking and business strategy is such a successful combination.

There has never been a better time to be a designer. Leading brands - such as - are moving designers into CEO roles. Consulting and financial companies are snapping up design firms. IBM has bought three design agencies this year alone.

More than a third of the top 25 funded start-ups are co-founded by designers. And the Design Management Institute found that, in the US up until 2014, design-led companies outperformed the SP stock market index by 219% over the last 10 years . What’s created this shift to design?

With functional differences becoming harder to hang onto and disruptive technologies offering ever-increasing tools for reinvention, it’s not surprising that tackling issues from a true design perspective makes total sense today.

This means looking at the problem in two ways: the first is in applying a design mind-set to reconfigure and simplify complex business problems; the second is in activating design’s ability to build strong emotional connections. From this perspective, it’s little wonder that design has become the tool of choice for leading companies.

For a number of years now, ‘design thinking’ has been a reference point for anyone wanting to jump out of past paradigms. Yet many have failed to pick up the other half of the design tool kit and commit to the craft of design - ‘the design doing’. In other words, the seduction and the sense of a design approach.

Here are four imperatives that seek to convert business strategy into beautiful, simple and meaningful work that can move the heart and with it, the bottom line.

This may sound blindingly obvious, but most often design is asked to merely style or decorate. Yet transformation comes from seamlessly tying design into the organisation’s core DNA and culture. Making a company’s vision and business strategy tangible to its customers and employees creates unique emotional bonds that surpass the rational.

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Virgin Atlantic is true to its founder’s vision of being the Robin Hood to the Prince Johns of national carriers, giving value yet doing things differently. It is committed to having fun and absolutely knowing its customer. This can be seen in the end-to-end customer experience: from the way the cabin crew chats with customers to the on-board bar, designed purely to facilitate that conversation; or from seat design and the edgy safety film to advertising and airline lounges.

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. Published on May 7, 2018

What will university education be like ten to fifteen years from now? One Mexican university isn’t waiting to find out. Tecnológico de Monterrey (or Tec Monterrey, as it’s sometimes called) created a division, called Teclabs , whose task is to both anticipate and create the future of higher education. By keeping tabs on innovations within higher education, Teclabs identifies threats and opportunities in the space. The group uses this information to develop, run, and evaluate pilot programs.

We have learned that is possible to deliver a high-quality education at scale.

Among its projects, Teclabs produces MOOCs for the university. Tec Monterrey has produced 42 courses , for platforms including Coursera, edX, and MexicoX; on subjects spanning business, the humanities, science, and engineering. More courses are in the works and will be released soon.

Class Central recently spoke with Jose Escamilla, Director of Teclabs, and Julien DePauw, who leads MOOC projects for the university. As we learned, MOOCs are not a one-off for Tec Monterrey. Rather, they are part of Teclabs’ integrated effort to prepare for the future of higher education.

Class Central

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How would you describe what Teclabs does?

Teclabs’ objective is to identify how higher education will be in 2030, whatever it becomes. To that end, we do three things: we observe trends, threats, and opportunities; we carry out projects to figure out what higher education will be like; and we do research to evaluate education projects. We also have internal funding – around $800,000 each year – to fund projects from our faculty. Recently, we launched our first round of funding through our new ed tech accelerator. We think it’s a good idea to take a stake in some innovative companies, especially as the private sector starts trying to disrupt the system.

Teclabs EdTech Accelerator

What can you tell us about your MOOC students?

Since 2013, we have had more than 700,000 students. On Coursera, a majority of our students are women. Also on Coursera, more students are reported as being from Colombia than from Mexico. We’re not sure that these numbers are completely accurate since students don’t have to specify where they are from. However, we do know that most of our students are from Latin America.

One challenge we face is awareness. Another is the credibility of online education. And a third is the price

What do you think are the challenges of working in the MOOC/online learning market in Mexico (or Latin America in general) as compared to the US or overall global market?

As the largest Spanish-speaking country, Mexico is a good market for MOOCs and online learning. One challenge we face is awareness. Another is the credibility of online education. And a third is the price. People who don’t really know much about MOOCs might think that they are completely free. Not everyone knows that, in fact, if you really want a certificate you have to pay something. It’s not a large amount of money, but it can be a barrier. Given that many countries in Latin America are developing countries, people can’t necessarily pay the same amount as in the United States or Europe.

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