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Don’t be afraid – core design skills for the future

Wednesday, 31 August 2016   (0 Comments)
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Rael Futerman from the UCT d-school speaks at the CCDI Design Human Capital Forum at Open Design

“The most innovative people and businesses who are going to perform best in this competitive world are those who aren’t afraid,” so says Claire Jowell, a marketing and business consultant for social enterprises, speaking at the Design Human Capital Forum convened by CCDI at Open Design.

This August the DHCF took place as part of the Open Design Festival at City Hall, with the theme: ‘What are the core design-related skills needed by industry to drive innovation?’

The three speakers - Rael Futerman (UCT d-school); Cor Shutte (independent consultant); and Claire shared their ideas on what they consider to be the critical design-related skills for success in the rapidly changing 21st century workplace. 


In his presentation, Rael focused the four aspects that make up a design-thinking mindset. These are:

  • Adopting a more human-centric approach - moving away from designing and marketing a product to engaging with people and discovering their needs and aspirations

  • Having a ‘discovery-driven mindset’ and shifting from problem-solving to problem-finding - moving from trying to solve the problem at hand to adopting the more expansive approach of exploring the issues that gave rise to the problem

  • Being able to take into consideration the different perspectives and suggestions in diverse teams and combining them to frame a challenge that addresses people’s needs and aspirations

  • Being able to create new knowledge and grounding it in creative ways

In her talk, Claire drew on the World Economic Forum 2016 Jobs Report which identified creativity, critical thinking and complex problem solving to be the top three skills that will be needed in business by 2020. Other core skills she touched on were the ability to observe and try to understand the context of a problem, the willingness to experiment and not be afraid of failure.

Cor Shutte outline four core skills as being able to accurately capture a client’s brief; the ability to make complex things simple; being able to extract hidden value in challenging projects and situations; and the ability to remove one’s biases and understand what is really valuable in the customer-centric environment.

The Design Human Capital Forum (DHCF) is a quarterly meeting of design educators, government and industry to address issues and opportunities in design education. It is one of the activities of the CCDI’s Design Support programme which focuses on design education and developing the design education pipeline.

Watch the videos of the talks here:



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