DOI: 10.1145/2824754 COPYRIGHT HELD B Y AUTHOR
people, and more so, they are teaching
that the model is the norm. And they
are right: It is how most companies
produce products. The students that
graduate from these programs are
easily employed. They fit right into the
existing enterprise, and then they serve
to reify the model itself.
I talk to many designers who
graduate from design programs focused
on iteration, empathy, and dreaming,
and to many who graduate from UX
programs focused on requirements,
business, and technology. More often
than not, the designers are confused
by the requirement process. The UX
students love it. The designers expect
to draw and imagine, and are surprised
that those skills aren’t valued.
Those from UX expect to manage
requirements, and are happy to see
they are well prepared.
We can teach our students other
models. We can teach them that design
can lead, producing innovation that is
uncompromising and directly supports
a business strategy. We can teach them
that good products aren’t developed
through over-analysis, and that there’s
room for ambiguity and emotion in
the entire process of product design.
And we can teach them to question
everything, particularly when someone
tells them that something is required
without explaining why.
If we teach our students these
other models, they will be confused or
disappointed when they enter the “real
world.” Confusion or disappointment
doesn’t feel good. But it does often
lead to change. These students might
vocalize their concern and describe
another way of working. They might
work to change the organization. They
might leave and look for another place
to work where design can be strategic.
They might even start their own
company to drive a process that brings
delight and magic to the process of
bringing new products to life.
We need our students to realize that
product development is more textured
than a list of requirements and a simple
three-prong diagram. It’s a disservice
to our future colleagues to prepare
them for safe careers in an established
system. We need to prepare them to
dream big and question everything.
Jon Kolko is the founder and director
of Austin Center for Design (http://www.
ac4d.com/), a progressive educational
institution teaching interaction design
and social entrepreneurship. His work
focuses on bringing the power of design
to social enterprises, with an emphasis on
entrepreneurship and large-scale industry
NOVEMBER–DECEMBER 2015 INTERACTIONS 23