Today innovation is everyone's business. Whether you are a manager in a global corporation, an entrepreneur starting up, in a government role, or a teacher in an elementary school, everyone is expected to get lean – to do better with less. And that is why we all need design thinking. At every level in every kind of organization, design thinking provides the tools you need to become an innovative thinker and uncover creative opportunities that are there – you're just not seeing them yet.
In this course, developed at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and taught by top-ranked faculty, we provide an overview of design thinking and work with a model containing four key questions and several tools to help you understand design thinking as a problem solving approach. We also look at several stories from different organizations that used design thinking to uncover compelling solutions.
What Is Design Thinking?
Welcome to the course -- we're excited you're here! We will begin by unpacking what we mean by design thinking and why it is more effective than traditional methods when the goal is innovation. 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 also examine what kinds of challenges are best-suited for design thinking and learn about the Visualization tool, which helps bring ideas to life. By the end of this module, you'll have a better understanding of what we mean by design thinking, when to use it, and how to use the Visualization tool.
Preparing Your Mind for Innovation
Design thinking is not only about process and tools, 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 mindset, and look at whether your mind is prepared to both see and 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 affect their ability to lead innovation and growth. We'll also learn about the value of the Storytelling tool. By the end of this module, you'll have a better understanding of a mind prepared to see and take action when opportunity arises, and how to use the Storytelling tool.
Now we will dive deeper into the design thinking process, looking at how we can use it to generate better ideas. In this module, 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, designers look toward the future and ask "what if?" This is the creative part of the process, but it also requires a disciplined approach. By the end of this module, you'll understand how to use design thinking to generate innovative ideas, how to apply the "what is?" and "what if?" questions, and how to use the Mind Mapping tool.
Having generated all of these innovative ideas, what’s next? The design thinking process now helps us to take the many ideas we have generated and figure out how to determine which ones are likely to produce the specific kinds of outcomes we want, whether these take the form of improved nutrition for the elderly (e.g., The Good Kitchen), healthier lifestyle choices (e.g., MeYouHealth) or even more “hot leads” emanating from your trade shows (as in the IBM example to follow). In this module, 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: 1) somebody wants it, 2) we can create and deliver it, and 3) doing so has the potential to produce the outcomes we want. Then we ask "what works?" and conduct small experiments to test if our assumptions are accurate. By the end of this module, you'll understand how to apply the "what wows?" and "what works?" questions, and how to use the Learning Launch tool. We'll conclude by reviewing our lessons and discussing strategic opportunities.
This module hosts materials related to your final assignment for the course. The assignment requires selecting one of the design thinking tools presented in the course, writing a reflection, and completing three peer reviews. To successfully complete the course, you must complete and pass the final assignment.