This course allows students to explore an approach to decision making called design thinking. Design thinking emphasizes deep user understanding, iteration, and a focus on possibilities as a way to enhance value creation for stakeholders. This collection of course materials includes three mutually exclusive case-based classroom simulations (UVA-S-0240, UVA-S-0241, and UVA-S-0248), a complete set of videos (contact DBP to preview and license video content), two books, posters for in-class exercises (contact DBP to license full sets of the ethnographic posters), and a supplemental tool kit containing downloadable PDFs for student assignments. The teaching note for each case is available to faculty members registered at Darden Business Publishing online.
The Design Thinking course employs one of the three available case-based simulations to create a hands-on and engaging experience for students, using a variety of design thinking tools, within the constraints of the classroom. In my class, I use a single case for the entire term, teaching the entire design thinking process over a 15-session course and usually devoting one 85-minute session to each tool. Any of the three individual case-based simulations can also be used to teach individual design skills—such as journey mapping, mining ethnographic data for deep insights, or ethnographic interviewing—rather than the full end-to-end process.
What truly distinguishes the design of this course and these case-based simulations and makes them valuable for teaching design thinking is that instructors receive additional information in the form of a set of posters that summarize ethnographic interview findings for each story. Thus the design of the materials allows students to get a brief personal experience in ethnographic interviewing as a preassignment for class, but then data from multiple other interviews are supplemented on the posters. This additional information gives students a rich database with which to explore the full range of design thinking activities; it also allows for experiential exercises in class rather than case discussions alone. Students get to practice design thinking in a real organizational context. The case-based simulations allow students to see the scope of the project, create a design brief, conduct ethnographic interviews, mine research data for insights, generate ideas, and design marketplace experiments. The teaching plan is designed for a “flipped classroom” approach, which works well for this material.
Academic Course Objectives
· Introduce students to a new approach—design thinking—that enhances innovation activities in terms of market impact, value creation, and speed.
· Expand students’ thinking about design and innovation beyond the design and development of new products to other fundamental sources of value creation.
· Strengthen students’ individual and collaborative capabilities to identify customer needs, create sound concept hypotheses, collect appropriate data, and develop a prototype that allows for meaningful feedback in a real-world environment.
· Teach students to translate broadly defined opportunities into actionable innovation possibilities and recommendations for client organizations.