Why Design Thinking is a Priority for the Automation Economy

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Why Design Thinking is a Priority for the Automation Economy

We are in the modern era of novelty and complexity surrounded by smart machines and influenced by algorithms. Most jobs have or will be augmented and many will be automated. While displacement may differ across sectors and regions it will be notable and begin before the young people join the workforce.

This automation age is being driven by artificial intelligence, big data and enabling technologies. As such, it offers unparalleled opportunities for positive contributions socially and economically. However, without forward-looking civic leaders and quick action, the benefits will be concentrated, resulting in conflict and more reactionary politics.

Here are four new learning priorities that can help young people prepare for lives full of novelty and complexity:

  • Innovation mindset: a combination of growth mindset, maker mindset and team mindset – in short, young people should learn to recognise the value of effort, initiative and collaboration.
  • Social-emotional learning: managing yourself and social interactions, making good decisions.
  • Design thinking: resolving complex problems with empathy and iteration – using a repetitive process with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result.
  • Self-directed learning: staying curious, building deep subject expertise – repeatedly- and creating lifelong learning habits.

Design thinking is probably the most important learning priority because of the new opportunities and challenges. These challenges require a distinct approach to the problem identification and solution. When design thinking is incorporated into the curriculum, it imparts all of the other core skills: innovation mindset, empathy and self-direction.

In higher education, the best example of design thinking is found at Olin College where students learn to research, design, make and manage.

Project-Based World

Most jobs are now project-based. A significant number of high school graduates work in the freelance economy and probably as many who go to work for others will end up working on or leading project teams.

Most professions today exceed the capabilities of any individual and require cross-functional teams to produce quality results. Smart teams use shared protocols like design thinking, exercise empathy for each other and their customers, manage themselves and reflect on their progress. In a few years, almost all fields will be transformed by the combination of artificial intelligence, big data and enabling technologies. Therefore, the approaches regularly involve assembling a big data set, a task that requires creativity, partnership, analysis, tons of cleanup and a good truth detector. Value creation is driven by people enthusiastic about a cause, who are adding data science to their quest.

Source: LinkedIn

As such, how can universities, particularly those in the Middle East and Africa region incorporate design thinking into their curriculum as they look to advance university excellence?

Join us in the upcoming QS-MAPLE 2018 – a Middle East and Africa’s Annual Strategic Summit for the Advancement of University Excellence in All its Forms, from 4-6 March 2018 in Bahrain.