Design Thinking and 21st Century Leadership Skills

April 16th

Garth Saloner, the Dean of Stanford Business School was interviewed by Lenny Mendonca in the McKinsey Quarterly and explained that at Stanford Business School, as they think about educating the next generation of business leaders, that their focus in a world without borders has moved from the hard skills of accounting, finance and supply chain management to the softer skills related to leadership.

In a world without borders, where the management of global enterprise or even global projects is taken as a given, there is a growing need to train managers who are skilled in encouraging collaboration.

The harder skills are a given. Saloner refers to them as a type of “hygiene.” His focus has turned to leading groups in collaboration where analytic thinking is critical, to communications (especially writing) and to education in the global marketplace. Stanford requires students to work abroad in countries where they have no prior experience.

Innovation is especially prized in a world that is inventing new ways to do things.

The thing that is starting to blossom as an approach and as an idea in universities with business schools as a partner is a whole area of what folks call design thinking. And that’s really the creative process of identifying a need but then working with the customers, through a process of rapid prototyping, to figure out how to develop a product or to solve their needs.

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