CCA's Pioneer 2010 Cohort in Leading by Design Fellows Program Accelerates Meaningful, Sustainable Change
Posted on Friday, November 26, 2010 by Jim Norrena
Congratulations to CCA's pioneer 2010 class of Leading by Design Fellows Program [photo: Jim Norrena]
SAVE THE DATE: Join us January 12, 2011, at 7 p.m. for a Leading by Design Fellows Program Info Night held at CCA on the San Francisco campus.
CCA’s Leading by Design Fellows Program Hits its Mark with Pioneer 2010 Cohort
Last May California College of the Arts launched the Leading by Design Fellows Program, a highly immersive and creative graduate-level certificate-based program for senior professionals and business managers who want to accelerate and deepen their capacity to innovate, solve complex problems, and lead positive change to shape the future.
The program’s first cohort, under the leadership of director and lead faculty Susan Worthman, came to a conclusion in November with students presenting their final projects over several days in the San Francisco campus boardroom. By the time the final project had been presented, the success of the Leading by Design Fellows Program was undeniable.
The pioneering cohort of 23 participants met at CCA’s San Francisco campus over a six-month period for monthly two-day residences (Friday-Saturday). Among the group’s professionals were left- and right-brain thinkers alike whose backgrounds ranged from nonprofit to corporate to educational to technology. Collectively, they represented the following diverse professions:
- documentary filmmakers
- financial executives
- marketing executives
- technical engineers
- sustainability leaders
Upholding the program's core goals, students’ final projects illustrated design thinking and process by using new principles, frameworks, tools, and strategies to accentuate more meaningful and sustainable business fundamentals and leadership.
About the Leading by Design Fellows Program
The program is officially administered by Dean of Special Programs Nina Sadek, but it also is an offshoot of CCA’s remarkably successful MBA in Design Strategy program, which BusinessWeek magazine highlighted in 2009 in its determination of California College of the Arts as "one of the world's best design schools." Chair Nathan Shedroff recognized the inherent value of the program from its inception: "Design and integrative thinking are the key approaches to creativity and innovation in organizations. CCA's programs have a unique perspective for equipping leaders with the latest insights, tools, and methods for leading innovation no matter what the industry."
Worthman met Shedroff at Presidio Graduate School, the only accredited MBA program in the United States that specializes in sustainable business. Their friendship evolved over a shared interest in integrating design and sustainability into new business models—ones that could care for the future of the next generation.
Worthman eventually joined the MBA in Design Strategy faculty as one of two associate chairs, along with Ted Zmrhal, yet continued to promote the need for CCA to offer working professionals an opportunity to steer their leadership skills in a new, more mindful approach. So with the support of Shedroff and CCA Provost Mark Breitenberg, the college launched the Leading by Design Fellows Program in 2010.
"The purpose [of the program]," explains Worthman, "is to educate the current generation of leaders who are best positioned to accelerate the positive changes we see as necessary for a more sustainable future. . . . Here's where you can have deep conversation and reflection about how to redesign and rethink the popular business model to develop business transformations for the 21st century . . . to educate companies . . . to train the workforce of tomorrow. These persons are holding positions of authority—and the industry needs to see who these persons are; they are the source for greater opportunities for the next generation."
Provost Mark Breitenberg was instrumental in seeing the program, which is essentially an executive education program, go from concept to launch: "The program is all about business leadership through design—using design processes and thinking to create positive, meaningful change. It's for professionals who want to bring more creative, innovative approaches to their companies and to transform the way they do business. It's a program at the front of the worldwide embrace of design as the key to innovation and competitive advantage." At the graduation reception, Breitenberg addressed the class, describing the program as "exactly, profoundly the DNA of this college."
The Leading by Design Fellows Program curriculum required participants identify an individual project relevant to their organization or profession and to complete it over the course of the program, through which they had to apply the principles, frameworks, and techniques presented.
The rigorous curriculum challenged participants to push themselves to either complete in-progress projects or develop entirely new ones. In either case, the curriculum encouraged the participants to transform traditional business strategies by creating new tools and frameworks to help their organizations and companies thrive . . . even in the current uncertain economy.
Unusual Times, Unusual Leaders
Worthman's goal is to help students apply "business innovation and social transformation to the challenges of the 21st century." She does this by offering a curriculum that "reinforces the need to rethink, redesign, and reimagine not just the best practices but also the best possibilities." And in these economically uncertain times, Worthman's even more committed to helping leaders find the necessary tools to build unique frameworks within organizations that are truly effective.
Of the nine men and 14 women, ranging in age from their late twenties to mid-fifties, the first program cohort attracted working professionals from California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Mexico, and Canada—most of whom have families—to become a different kind of family, one that is a tightly knit community of peers who are ready, willing, and able to lead and accelerate change in the world.
Strengthening Leadership by Encouraging Ideas
Success can now be measured by increases in values, meaning, sustainability, and profitability. This requires new ways of leading—and a new kind of leader who is willing contemplate effective solutions and apply them in the existing workplace—be it through experimental programs or, perhaps more importantly, in the actual hiring of employees who are already attuned to these issues and are seeking new business models.
Here are just some of the forward-thinking themes students addressed in their projects:
- using direct-response marketing to overcome climate-change skepticism
- integrating community health care to solve food insecurity and obesity
- offering consumer financial-planning services
- addressing fashion industry–related waste and unsustainable industry practices
- building supportive communities for elder care
- establishing greater innovation to address disposable diaper waste
- stimulating K-8 eco-literacy in faith-based schools
- building sustainable toys
- assessing the impact of drug disposal on public safety and environment
- revisiting models for health care
- encouraging sustainable agriculture
Project Outcomes Reflect Innovative Leadership
Listed below are examples of the kind of student projects that resulted during the Leading by Design Fellows Program. They offer potential solutions to many of our current socioeconomic crises using meaningful and inspired approaches.
Sara Fenske Behat introduced Good Money, a unique family financial-planning service to help with key decision-making challenges.
Jennifer Billock discussed the global benefit of gDiaper, a reinvention of the diaper service to reduce landfill buildup related to the traditional disposable diaper.
Daniella Santos Coy proposed widening the awareness of sustainable business practices in Mexico.
Renuka Hker presented Revolution Food, a system to rebrand and reposition school-lunch programs to promote greater nutrition and combat the unhealthful eating patterns of many school-age children.
Beverly Ingle proposed a subsidized health-care system to address the obesity epidemic in San Antonio, Texas, by making healthier prepackaged foods more readily available.
David Krovitz presented Playfree, a proposal for developing electronic designs geared toward increasing play time for children by allowing parents to more conveniently monitor their children's behavior when away from view.
Andrea Mangini authored The Santa Cruz Market Project, a proposal to establish a permanent public market in Santa Cruz, which would leverage the city's wealth of local food resources to enhance its economic prosperity, protect its environment, and connect its community.
Santiago Prieto took his IDEO- / Escuela Banciaria y Comerical–sponsored Gravy design, a self-described technogizmo for peer sharing and learning that can be accessed via the iPhone.
Shane Smith introduced Senior Link, a system of connecting community-service professionals (e.g., EMTs, postal carriers, police) with senior citizens to act as "guardians" throughout Canada.
Jennifer Soss's presentation addressed Hayes Valley Farm, a community-supported public market to grow healthier food to combat the widespread epidemic of childhood obesity.
Amy Williams, chair of CCA's Fashion Design Program, pitched an Innovation Workshop Series to promote teaching about sustainable apparel.
Paul Zehrer presented D.R.E.A.M.: The Climate-Energy Project, which would promote building public support for effective climate, energy, and environmental progress in the United States.
Fostering a Community of Past and Present
Following their final presentations, the participants in the inaugural cohort took part in a celebration held at the Writers' Studio. Among the camaraderie were two special guests: MBA in Design Strategy alumnae Suzanne Randolph and valedictorian Nicole Chen, both of whom graduated in the pioneering class. Randolph is the retail environment designer at DaySpring Cards, as well as owns Suzanne Randolph Fine Arts, her own fine art advisory firm.
Chen is the senior innovation strategist at Idea Couture. She also played an instrumental role in compiling the first-edition MBA in Design Strategy Student Annual 2008–2009, an annual publication that showcases student experiences and projects. (Note: the Student Annual 2009–2010 is now available.)
Among the shared testimonials during the closing reception Ephi Banayal Dela Cruz shared, "I'm forever changed because of this opportunity meeting all of you. . . . The biggest part that I take away from all this . . . that it's our responsibility to equip the next generation to be leaders who respect life and protect life . . . is that I'm hopeful because I've met those leaders here in this group." Jennifer Billock, in referencing how much had changed since the program started, professed, "It's really something fundamentally in me that's changed."
Professional Lead Faculty & Guest Speakers
Another key component to the success of the Leading by Design Fellows Program is lead faculty member and senior design research strategist Elizabeth Glenewinkel, who brings to the table a remarkable combination of design thinking, business strategy, effective leadership, and innovative approaches to designing with sustainability in mind. Collectively, Glenewinkel and Worthman offer a holistic framework through which participants are equipped to shape a thriving future for themselves, their organization, and the world.
Guest Speakers during the program included CCA associate professor Lisa Solomon, who teaches the MBA in Design Innovation Studio course, as well as the following industry professionals:
- Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO, author of Change by Design
- Bob Dunham, founder of Enterprise Performance
- Gil Friend, CEO Natural Logic, author of The Truth About Green Business
- Kaaren Hansen, Director of Innovation, Intuit
- Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive
- Adam Werbach, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi S, author of Strategy for Sustainability
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