Convergence of design thinking into business management – S. Sriram, CEO, Great Lakes Institute of Management


Apart from plans for programmes in retail management and health care, what is top on the mind of Prof S. Sriram, CEO, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, is the convergence of design thinking into business management. “Some of the leading universities like Stanford are looking at business majors doing courses in design school. There is this whole convergence in terms of design, innovation, and new product development. So, we are looking at courses in that area, perhaps an elective,” says Sriram, during a brief interaction with YourStory. “These are some of the initiatives we are looking at currently, and would require a lot of thrust and boost in the initial stage. I am likely to spend, may be, 75 to 80% of the time on these initiatives, and may be 20% on day-to-day operations.”

Design thinking

Design thinking spurs innovation and solves complex problems, explains an infographic. “It is being taught at the top business, design and engineering schools around the globe.” Quite striking is an example of design thinking impact presented in the visual: about drastically reducing the malnourishment rates of children in Vietnam! Describing design thinking as “a human-centred, prototype-driven process for innovation that can be applied to product, service, and business design,” Stanford believes that innovation is necessary in every aspect of business, and that it can be taught. Its offers “a methodology for innovation that combines creative and analytical approaches, and requires collaboration across disciplines.” It depicts design innovation as the intersection of three circles, viz. technology, business, and human values. Emphasising that innovative problem solving and design thinking can be learned through repeated practice, Harvard’s ‘Design Thinking and Innovation’ course focuses on the manager’s or leader’s role as an innovator and facilitator of innovation by others. For free learning, check Coursera‘s ‘Design Thinking for Business Innovation,’ which observes that “organisations as diverse as entrepreneurial startups, big established corporations, and government and social service organisations are experimenting with design thinking as an alternative approach to traditional problem-solving.”

S. Sriram

A graduate in economics from the University of Madras, with a master’s degree in marketing management from Bombay University, Sriram teaches courses on strategic management, business policy and strategy, economies of strategy, management control systems and strategic cost management strategic implementation at MBA level and for corporate executives. Prior to joining Great Lakes, he worked with a business consulting firm in Mumbai (1983-1990), and was the Chairperson, Executive MBA and professor of strategy at S. P. Jain Institute for Management & Research, Mumbai (1990-2004).


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