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MBAs and MFAs should date.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 3, 2005

I’ve often thought that one of the reasons why business people and design people can’t communicate well is that they didn’t date in college. They didn’t listen to the same music. Didn’t go to the same classes. Didn’t go to the same movies. Wore different clothes. Went to different bars. Fast forward a few years in the land of business and no wonder they still can’t talk to one another even though they find themselves on the same team trying to develop a new product or service.

I have a solution. Go to the library and borrow one. Business people should go to the public library and take out a desingner for a day or two. And designers should go to the library and borrow a business major. Yes, I know this is impossible right now but in the Netherlands, they’ve started a program of lending out people. The townspeople of Almelo, apparently, aren’t too comfortble with drug addicts, homosexuals, gypsies, asylum seekers, the physically handicapped and lesbians so a local library is making them available to borrow for 45 minute meetings.

Without commenting on Dutch illiberal society, I think we can borrow the form of library lending to bridge the gap between MBAs and MFAs. If you won’t date one, then borrow one. Do it for the team.

Reader Comments

MBA dating a Designer

October 4, 2005 9:31 PM

I guess that I'm ahead of my time. I'm an MBA graduate and I work for a major design consultancy and have been dating an designer for 2+ years. It's really interesting how differently we see the world.

Usually our conversations turn into debates and then we realize that we are talking about the same idea but from a different viewpoint. He's more visionary - I'm more pragmatic.


October 6, 2005 4:42 PM

I agree completely- and offer an easier solution: joining a mixed organization in college (ex: fraternity or sorority). i've found as a designer that it is much more helpful working on projects within my fraternity w/ the business majors than trying to talk to other business majors about what they do. it is REAL practice on REAL issues. not exactly the most typical idea anymore, but i figure that my pimping may get more business people to appreciate the greek (or other organization) systems more.

Joshua Sharf

October 7, 2005 5:43 AM

I'm in even worse shape than "MBA Dating." I'm an MBA/MSF who's fascinated by design. Cooper-Hewitt, the local design exhibitions here, the book "The Look of the Century," I love it all.

Now, if we can only get some designers interested in business...

Bob Blaich

October 13, 2005 4:13 PM

Opened your BLOG and it is a super service...I will check it out daily and respond if I have anything to contribute.
Bob Blaich

Helen Date

November 28, 2005 2:35 PM

I like this way out. Very creative) And what is even more important enjoyable for both sides.


November 30, 2005 7:25 PM

I recently concluded an MA in Design Management and now I can speak the language of business and can confortably have a conversation or even a date with a person who has a business background, something that before doing my Masters was quite tricky. What I think is that my Masters program should really be called a Masters in Design Administration a MDA instead of an MA in order to gain more credibility.


December 6, 2005 11:19 PM

While attending a/the top design school 10+ years ago, I could not get credit for any business courses (that would need to be taken at other schools, as there were none offered). Too late for my generation, the school has now 'partnered' with a local business program, but I'm afraid the perception that artists need not participate in the business world is still a belief among many. It seems the fear of the unknown needs to be addressed and common ground found.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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