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Communication in the Planning Process




Leadership & Mediation

Credit Hours


Explores communication methods to give tangible form to valuable information throughout the development process.

This course teaches students how to use communication methods to accelerate synthesis and give tangible form to valuable information throughout the development process. Students explore relevant theories of language, visual perception, visual representation, and communication. Through a mix of lecture, group activities, critique, and exercises, students receive hands-on experience to ensure concepts are well understood.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to articulate and apply communication techniques at three points in the design process.

1. Models to describe the mess
The front end of the planning process is information-intensive and highly analytic. Here we look at models for describing and structuring the resulting mess. This includes visual forms that create simple, compact, coherent representations of complex data.

2. Tools for diffusing research findings inside the organization
In typical business consulting, the research is considered a means to an end, rather than as a separate value stream that can inform an organization separately from the final concepts. In this section, we survey techniques for embodying and diffusing research findings in ways that make sense to the organizational culture you are designing for.

3. Framing techniques for strategic positioning
Getting the story straight so that it’s clear and powerful is a perennial challenge in design planning. The most common mistake is to recite a linear timeline of the project and findings, which takes the fresh energy in the room and spends it on the information of secondary importance. What we need to learn is how to lead with knowledge, not process. Framing techniques help break the “agony of square one” and create a new space for thinking that drives emotional and intellectual contact with the work.

Format & Grading

Given the breadth and application of the topics involved in this course, students are required to participate in every class. Missing even the first class can significantly impede a student’s ability to absorb all of the material presented. Missing two or more classes will likely keep a student from achieving a passing grade for the course.

Enrollment Restrictions

No prerequisites. This course is open to all Institute of Design students.