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Design Thinking Pedagogy and Practice Webinar Highlights

Jeanne Liedtka, Darden School of Graduate Business
Jeanne Liedtka, Darden School of Graduate Business

On September 9, 2015, GBSN hosted a webinar called, “Design Thinking Pedagogy and Practice,” featuring Jeanne M. Liedtka, a professor of business administration at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.

The webinar discussed the process of Design Thinking using a case study, and the methods in which it can be taught to students. About 91 percent of the people who have attended the webinar had some to no experience with Design Thinking, and 84 percent planned to either incorporate elements of Design Thinking into their courses (42 percent) or design their own Design Thinking course (42 percent).

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a problem-solving approach in which managers apply the mindset and approaches of designers to develop innovative products, processes and business models to fuel growth and innovation. Design Thinking centers around identifying stakeholders’ needs, brainstorming solutions to these needs without constraints like budgeting, and testing these solutions in the most cost-effective way. It is very much a hypothesis-driven approach.

According to professor Liedtka, there are 15 steps to designing for growth:

  1. Identify an Opportunity
  2. Scope Your Project
  3. Draft your Design Brief
  4. Make Your Plans
  5. Do Your Research
  6. Identify Insights
  7. Establish Design Criteria
  8. Brainstorm Ideas
  9. Develop Concepts
  10. Create Some Napkin Pitches
  11. Surface Key Assumptions
  12. Make Prototypes
  13. Get Feedback from Stakeholders
  14. Run Your Learning Launches
  15. Design the On-Ramp

While professor Liedtka did not go over all 15 steps for designing for growth, she did segment the steps into the following groups: “What Is?” “What If?” “What Wows?” and “What Works?”

Steps 1-4 require managers to identify the problem.

Steps 5-7, which fall under the “What Is?” category, require managers to conduct research into the stakeholders’ experience with the product and service. Here, professor Liedtka highlights journey-mapping, a design tool that traces the journey of a customer as they experience a product or service. Journey-mapping seeks to understand the customers’ emotions when they interact with a product or service, and therefore requires managers to establish a deep understanding of human needs and motives.

Steps 8-10, which fall under the “What If?” category, are where managers start to brainstorm solutions to the stakeholders’ unmet emotional and practical needs. Here, professor Liedtka additionally discusses co-creation, a design tool that invites key stakeholders into the design process.

Steps 11-12, which fall under the “What Wows?” category, are where managers begin to create prototypes of possible solutions. These prototypes can be as simple as building a non-functional website or storyboard. In this stage, managers seek practicality of solutions and begin to narrow solutions that were brainstormed. A prototype that is economically sustainable, can be produced, and has the possibility of being desired by stakeholders can be a product that wows.

Once a prototype is decided on, managers can implement steps 13-15, which fall under the “What Works?” category. In these steps, managers run the prototype by stakeholders and review feedback from them. If stakeholders do not like the prototype, managers begin the Design Thinking process again.

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If you would like to suggest a topic for future webinars, please email Lisa Leander, GBSN’s senior program officer at lleander@gbsn.org.