Design, innovate and disrupt are keys to new interdisciplinary courses

What happens when you put some highly creative architecture professors in an art studio with some intensely quantitative business professors and ask them to solve a problem?

Design thinking.

This hybrid approach to problem solving will be the focus of a new interdisciplinary executive education seminar taught by faculty members from Washington University’s Olin Business School and the College of Architecture.

“We are taking advantage of how different disciplines within the university approach and solve problems,” explains Panos Kouvelis, PhD,senior associate dean and director of executive programs at Olin.

“Design thinking has been popularized as a transformational way to solve problems. Architects and artists approach problems in a very creative way. At the same time we would like to approach problems in a creative way, but within a business context. We want to find the synergy between the two ways of thinking.”

Kouvelis will team-teach or “coach” the new course titled, “design.innovate.disrupt” with Bruce Lindsey, dean of the College of Architecture/Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design at Washington University; and Samuel Chun, PhD, assistant dean of executive programs & senior lecturer in management practice.

“Design is a process for discovering innovative solutions to solve complex problems within dynamic contexts,” Lindsey says. “Business is nothing if not dynamic, and innovation is the competitive landscape.”

The course is designed for generalists and welcomes students from all backgrounds. The three-day course will take place in an art studio where participants will be challenged to create a prototype that aspires to both design and business best practices. The professors promise it will be an intensive mental workout and, if successful, will transform the way students solve problems.

Dual approach to energy & environment

Olin’s executive education program is launching another interdisciplinary course this fall on energy procurement and risk management. Offered by Washington University’s School of Engineering & Applied Science and Olin, the two-day program will involve a live case study and audit of a building’s energy use, environmental impact and sustainability from a profit and loss perspective.

“Scientists don’t necessarily think about the business aspect when designing or inventing things,” says Chun, who will co-teach the course with John Murphy, research associate at the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

“We [business professors] think about the cost and benefit, the economics of the business model, but we don’t always ask deeper questions about the macro view.”

Chun says engineers bring an excellent macro view to problem solving and, together with the business professors, will be able to build a good business case for energy management.

This will be the first in a series of energy- and environment-themed courses offered by the business and engineering schools.

Energy & Environment — Putting Power Behind Energy Management

When: Tuesday, Oct. 30, and Wednesday, Oct. 31

design.innovate.disrupt. — Designing Business Innovation
When: Wednesday, Oct. 24; Thursday, Oct. 25, and Friday, Oct. 26