The LUMA Institute has caught a good wave and is riding it in a new direction.
A spin-off of the successful Pittsburgh-based design consultancy MAYA Design, LUMA has fully embraced the notion of “Big D” design, design thinking, human-centered design, or whatever we call it now. And they decided to teach rather than do.
LUMA views human-centered design (HCD) as a critical skill for the next century. They believe that, like mathematics, all people should have a basic knowledge of HCD tools to compete in a complex world. They don’t see HCD as a process, but rather as a way of thinking and working that is fundamentally collaborative and human.
Though LUMA occupies the same philosophical space as IDEO, the popular leader among design/business strategy firms, LUMA focuses more on teaching (through corporate workshops and classes). IDEO has enjoyed a privileged lead in recent years, though a shift may be coming. IDEO is known for being wildly impressive, but also expensive and inflexible. Some former IDEO clients we’ve met wished they could have been more involved in the process, wished they would have learned more. Enter LUMA.
We chose LUMA as a fascinating study in business model design. They saw the emerging HCD trend and rather than trying to outgun competitors, they looked for a blue ocean. They’ve also done a great job packaging their offer, making what can be very complex seem pretty simple. We admire their vision and decisiveness.