I remarked: I’ve been saying for years that MBA students need to learn how to partner with designers. A valuable skill for running a biz. #FUSE2010

A Friend replied, simply: Elaborate.

My response: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am of the impression that all MBA classes are taught through the lens of “when you are running a business …”, delving deeper than simply working, but planning, managing, and decision-making.

So while you’ll take classes in law, finance, human resources, etc., there’s very little to do with the qualitative side of business, and virtually nothing to do with design.

Marketing and advertising are well-established tools for any business, but designers are still viewed as aliens — these strange creatures who wear black and use Macs.

I feel that by taking a few weeks, or even a few hours, to discuss the role of design business, it will help generate empathy among managers and other “suits”. This will help avoid the old “make the logo bigger” syndrome, where brands and agencies often get at odds.

Designers are no better, they need to suck up the fact that we too are business people, not artists. Our work, much like that of a lawyer, accountant, or even a plumber, is a professional service, and we have to be professionals.

The example given here was one where the now-CMO for Quaker Foods as an MBA student was made to partner with the MFA Design students to simulate the future client-agency relationship. In her testimony, it was a tremendous experience, and one I think is too rare.

You, specifically, shouldn’t have this problem. Obviously you have design experience, but many of your future colleagues will not even be able to comprehend the need for design, let alone the continuing relationship requirements (and associated fees.)

It comes down to open-mindedness. Do we want to train future business leaders to be empathetic and creative thinkers, or just another generation of “suits”, carrying out the same rituals of middle-class hazing for their future employees and vendors?

Onwards and upwards.