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Design Thinking for Business Innovation

Course Summary

This course will provide an overview of the process and tools used for design thinking, and examine their application in organizational situations.

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    Course Syllabus

    Week 1: What is Design Thinking? We will begin our course by unpacking what we mean by design thinking and why it is more effective than traditional business methods when the goal is innovation in the business environment.  By looking at the case history of The Good Kitchen, a Denmark program for providing meals for the elderly, we will explore how the mindset and practice of the innovation team that partnered with innovation consultant Hatch & Bloom enabled them to achieve innovation and growth. We’ll conclude week 1 by examining what kinds of problems and challenges are best suited for a design thinking approach. Week 2: How can we prepare ourselves to be leaders of innovation? Design thinking is not only about process and tools, however. It is about people as well - about you as a design thinker and about the people you want to create value for and with. And so, before we jump into the process of using design thinking to generate and test ideas, we want to first focus on your own mindset and look at how whether  your mind is prepared to both see and to act on opportunity when it shows up in your world. We will examine this issue by looking at the stories of two very capable managers George and Geoff - and how their differing mindsets impact their ability to lead innovation and growth.  We will also look at the role of visualization tools that use imagery and storytelling to bring ideas to life. Week 3: How can you use design thinking to generate ideas? Now we will take a deeper dive into the design thinking process, looking at how we can use it to generate better ideas. This week, we will look at the story of an entrepreneur, Chris Cartter, and his start-up, MeYouHealth, as they worked with Boston design firm, Essential Design, to understand the kind of opportunity that social networking might hold for helping us to improve our health.  Examining what already exists is the first step in the design thinking process. As part of assessing what is designers “follow the customer home” and explore the problems they are trying to solve in life versus their product use. Once they have thoroughly explored and looked for patterns in what is, designers look towards the future and ask what if? These two questions - what is and what if -   along with the tools associated with them, will be the focus of week 3. This is the creative part of the process - but it also contains a disciplined approach. Week 4: How can you use design thinking to test ideas?  Having generated all these great ideas, what’s next? The design thinking process now helps us to take the many ideas we have generated, and figure out how to figure out which ones are likely to produce the specific kind of outcomes we want -whether these take the form of improved nutrition for the elderly (The Good Kitchen), healthier life style choices (MeYouHealth) or even more “hot leads” emanating from your trade shows (in the IBM example we will look at in this session). In this session, we will follow the activities of an IBM team working closely with experience marketing agency, George P. Johnson, as they develop and test ideas for a revolutionary approach to trade show participation. This process begins by asking what wows? This question brings together the customer and business cases supporting our new concepts. Typically, the “wow” zone occurs at the intersection of three criteria: somebody wants it, we can create and deliver it, and doing so has the potential to produce the outcomes we as an organization want.  Then we ask  what works? and conduct small experiments to test out whether our assumptions are accurate. We'll finish the week by reviewing what we have covered.

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    Recommended Background

    Anyone interested in innovation in an organizational context would benefit from this class.

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    Course Format

    The course will consist of a series of videos and on-line discussions. 

    Students will be eligible to the State of Accomplishment if they understand the basic process for design thinking through watching the course videos, post 4 times to the class discussion forums, and write an essay of 300 words or more that describes how he/she has used the course tools and methodology in his/her own life. All the requirements must be met in order to achieve the Statement of Accomplishment.

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    Suggested Reading

    Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers, by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie. 
    Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works,  by Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King and Kevin Bennett.  

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Attendees Rating:

Course Type:


Course Status:



1 - 4 hours / week

This course is listed under Development & Implementations and Quality Assurance & Testing Community

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1 Review

  1. A short course recommended for managers
    Reviewed by

    Though it is a short course, the mooc was very well paced and it was very easy to remember the key concepts. The only drawback of the course is its focus or reference to only one book. The instructor should have recommended more reading material which could interest students to find more material about the topic. Otherwise it is a good course and I felt it useful for me.

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