Embracing ambiguity, rapid prototyping and lazy Monday mornings
This, my friends, is the life of a DMBA student
I woke up this Monday morning at exactly 11 am. Just in time for a video call with my innovation team. I joined the call in my pjs and with serious bedhead. Normally, I’m a big believer in dressing for success and looking the part etc. etc. But after spending the last four days straight and countless other hours together this semester, they’ve begun to feel a bit like family. And as such, they’re allowed to see my messy morning hair.
Grad school: where Monday is the new Saturday.
This fall, I started my first semester in the Design Strategy MBA program at California College of Arts. It was a serendipitous find — as I’d been struggling to find a way to pursue higher level design while also remaining true to my journalistic roots. I wanted to learn how to think differently, tell better stories, and solve bigger problems. And so far I’m on my way.
The DMBA program is all about applying design techniques that include customer-centered research, prototyping, critique, iteration, as well as business strategies and metrics. Classes meet once a month, Thursday-Sunday, from 9–5 pm. There are five residencies each semester. And while it seems like I should have a lot of free time in-between each residency, I really don’t. It’s a full-time grad school program, and I allot a good portion of my daily schedule to team meetings, research, reading, writing papers, making prototypes and iterating the crap out of them.
This past weekend in my fourth residency, I analyzed income statements for Twitter, worked on seating solutions for autonomous vehicles, put on a musical skit about cash flow statements, and drank approximately 120 million cups of coffee.
This semester, I’ve learned the deeper value of asking, “How might we…” and the economic structure and supply chain logistics of fast fashion retailers. I’ve learned half a dozen new ways to prototype, how to map out customer journeys, uncover pain points, and the value of a positive no. I’ve learned how to successfully read a balance sheet, how to ground an assessment, and how to create a signature experience. I’m learning how to fail better and make systems more intuitive and more enjoyable.
Most of all, I’m learning how to embrace ambiguity and to enjoy lazy Monday mornings while I still can.