12 students: 2 exec MBA and 10 MBA students

Live project: Designing services with personal data (one of this year’s Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford (GOTO) themes)


In this summer elective, MBA students had an opportunity to explore approaches associated with design thinking and service design by practically trying out the main methods, accompanied by discussion in class and examples from leading consultancies and design-led organisations. Given the timing of the class and its structure as a weekend mini-elective, it was not possible to visit London studios or invite in guests, so on this occasion the elective took as its challenge the Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford (GOTO) theme of personal data.

Session 1 was an intense workshop that led students through the main phases of the design process in a couple of hours and gave them a taste of the expanding field in which design is now operating. Session 2 explored ethnographic methods to generate insights about user practices/behaviour as a starting point for design, with a focus on how they experienced and related to data usage and privacy.

In Session 3 students developed service concepts based on these insights and explored these by creating scenarios and mocking up touchpoints from future services. Following peer review – a kind of quick lo-fi prototyping – students then iterated their service concepts.

In the final session, students discussed the organisational implications of developing design capabilities and compared how a “design innovation” approach compares with other approaches to innovation.