Design thinking is going to change Russian education
Michael, the boss wants the site to be blue. Blue is the color of joy.
Excuse me, but you approved the different color scheme of the layout. How is it going to suddenly turn blue now?
Does it matter who approved what? The boss changed his mind, do what he wants you to do. You need to place all the company's products on the main page.
Are you serious? There are more than a hundred of them… They are published as a list in a separate section. The main page of the site will become endless!
Michael, do what your seniors tell you to do, do not bicker. Otherwise, you will end up under even more pressure. We need the boss to like the result.
But that's not quite right, is it…
We don't need it right, Michael. We need the boss to like the result!

Blue is the color of joy!
The hypothetical Michael had been working at a hypothetical high-tech enterprise in our country for four years. He was responsible for multimedia projects: educational projects, exhibitions, presentations, and other tasks that occurred on boss's command in the "here and now, 24/7" mode. Michael is proud of this stage of his career just like someone would be proud of being in military service or participating in survival games. Michael left the company, bearing the "battle scars" and invaluable experience of hard work in a multistage system of meaningless control.

The company inherited a glorious history full of truly great achievements of the Soviet era. There, in the previous century, many useful electrical appliances were invented, and Soviet and Russian science moved forward. There are still unique scientists, eminent specialists working in this company. Many of them are dedicated to their work and country.

But in addition to this legacy, there is another. Now it would be difficult to determine whether it is Soviet, or maybe Post-Soviet. Mosy importantly, it is just what Griboedov wrote: "I am just a young man and I mustn't have my own judgement." The other quote suits perfectly as well: "I'd love to serve. Servility is what I hate." So, this hypothetical young Michael surely gets an excursion into the magical world of the immortal Russian classics while working at this high-tech enterprise.

What is the purpose of all written above? The purpose is to show you, dear reader, the deep Russian culture and tell about why marketing tools, praised in the overseas world, sometimes do not work in our harsh reality. Trying to get those tools to work, we waste a lot of money, time, effort, and sometimes even lose employees who burn out working on random projects. They burn out quickly and completely, often leaving the industry.

Now, dear reader, let me show you the fascinating world of managing media or multimedia projects of a university, enterprise, or any other organization. We will use examples to analyze when it works and when it doesn't.

Example #1. About design

Imagine having to launch a landing page for an educational program sales, or prepare a printed materials for an exhibition. Or maybe you are have to design a mobile application or a souvenir.

You are at a low start — you turn on unrestrained imagination, a frenzied desire to create, you recall school drawing lessons, maybe an art club or Photoshop courses. When you think that you are a sophisticated personand have an impeccable taste for solving a particular design problem, please, stop. Ask yourself this very practical question. Do you know how design is different from free artistic creation?

Design is a technical discipline. Here, it is not enough to claim to be an artist, say "I see it this way" and theatrically throw your scarf over your shoulder. A good design is not a "make it beautiful" one, but the one that works for your client. If it works, it means that it solves a commercial Issue and makes a profit.

When working on any design, remember that you are not doing it for your superiors, nor for yourself, nor for your friends, colleagues, relatives. You are doing it for the target consumer of your services. If you are a university — and we are talking mostly about education here — then you do everything for an applicant, a student and a graduate. First of all, they should like the result of your work. They should be absolutely thrilled with your university. As soon as you fully accept this thesis, we move forward.

The work is done well:
The design is focused on the target audience. First of all, those who use it — not you, not your boss — should like it.
Before developing the design, you analyzed and thought about the functionality, made a prototype, discussed and approved it with all participants in the process.
Please pay attention to what is now relevant for young people, on trends. Be clear, be relevant.
        Advertising agencies offer enough branded products. When choosing objects, think whether they fit the majority of your audience. A good gift is a gift that you yourself would want to get! And a good design is the one that brings you profit!
        Mikhail Lazarenko
        Director for International Marketing, Education Export Center
        Example #2. About the distribution and souvenirs

        When ordering such materials, spending money on it, you must clearly understand how long the branded item will stay with the addressee, reminding them of your university.

        First of all, say no to pocket calendars. Everyone has a smartphone now. The situation is slightly better with quarterly calendars, but it is unlikely that high-ranking managers will use them — these calendars are more likely to end up in the accounting department or the personnel department. An exception may be made for a calendar with views of the nature of your region. In general, this is not a good idea.

        • Tshirts, hoodies, raincoats, and other clothing. I don't think many of us want to become free walking advertisement. Do not place giant logos on promotional clothing if you are not sure that they look excellent, if they are not for volunteers, but for customers. The quality of the merch should be high, the logo should be small; it would be nice to disguise the logo in the graphics. Then a T‑shirt or sweatshirt will not end up in charity funds and will not become a rag for wiping windows. Make your merch something your client would want to wear. Choose an up-to-date fashion model made of high-quality material, the color should match any other, let it be gray or milky white. You can look what exactly major clothing manufacturers offer. Basically, this is a good idea.
        • Hats, scarves, mittens. Wool, cotton, silk. Always highquality, calm colors. No need for slippery synthetics and neon, otherwise the merch will quickly move to the trash cans, and it will be worn by someone different than you planned.
        • Umbrellas are a good idea. The recommendations are the same as for the rest of the merch. Flash drives are highly doubtful. Yandex, Gmail, and other cloud storage services are now available to everyone. It is information using links. Bad idea.
        • Powerbank is a good idea.
        • Tea, coffee. Your client will use your gift, and for a while it will remind your client of your university. Pay attention to the quality of the product itself. Good idea.
        • Board games. It is good if they are thematically related to your educational institution. Good idea.
        • Candy and chocolate. Very good idea!
        • Souvenirs, badge holders, coin holders, other objects of questionable value are likely to find peace at best in a drawer, at worst — well, you know where.
        • Pens and notebooks are suitable for inexpensive mass distribution. Diaries — high-quality and of small circulation, they are also likely to be in little demand since there are online planners.
            Mikhail Lazarenko, Director for International Marketing, Education Export Center, Russia. Mikhail completed his degrees from several top Russian universities in International Management and Information Technology. Over the past ten years, he has worked on international humanitarian projects, promoting Russian culture and education abroad.