Design Thinking


Units: 6


The word “design” has traditionally been used to describe the visual aesthetics of objects such as consumer products, architecture, and fashion.  Over time, the discipline of design expanded to include not only the shaping of things but also the ways that people interact with systems, services, and organizations.

In 2008, Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, a Silicon Valley design firm famous for designing the first computer mouse for Apple, wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review (re-)introducing into the lexicon a further expansion of the design discipline—what he called “design thinking” [“reintroducing” since a book called Design Thinking, written by a Harvard urban planning professor, was published in 1987…there is rarely anything truly new under the sun!]. 

Design Thinking is a problem solving methodology especially well suited for investigating ill-defined problems.  It uses methods derived from the discipline of design to match people’s needs with what is feasible and what a viable organizational strategy can convert into customer/stakeholder value in a financially sustainable way.

It was initially proposed as a way for corporations to more quickly, creatively, and effectively develop new offerings but has since been further adapted to address issues in the public and social sectors as well.

This course provides an introduction to design thinking for budding business titans, policy makers, social innovators and anyone else interested in learning more about an approach that can be applied to a variety of “wicked” problems.

Learning Outcomes:


Introduce students to a discipline—design thinking—that enhances innovation activities in terms of value creation, speed, and sustainability


Strengthen students’ individual and collaborative capabilities to identify problems/issues/needs, develop sound hypotheses, collect and analyze appropriate data, and develop ways to collect meaningful feedback in a real-world environment


Teach students to translate broadly defined opportunities into actionable innovation possibilities and recommendations for key stakeholders and their organizations