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Design Thinking 101

May 1, 2018

Welcome to the Design Thinking podcast! I’m Dawan Stanford, your host. In each episode, you’ll learn to apply design thinking to your goals and challenges. Our guests, who come from a wide variety of industries, will share stories, lessons, ideas, experience, and insights from practicing, leading, and teaching design thinking.

In this first episode, our guest is the incredible Jeanne Liedtka. Jeanne has been involved in the corporate strategy field for over 30 years. She’s a Harvard Business School graduate and a professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia. In addition, she’s a prolific author whose works include The Catalyst: How You Can Lead Extraordinary Growth, which won the Business Week best innovation books of 2009, and, most recently, Design Thinking for the Greater Good

Jeanne wandered into design thinking when she was searching for a way to be more effective in teaching managers about strategic planning. In contrast, she points out, most people think of strategic planning as a deadly, dull task of filling out paperwork that never goes anywhere. In her search for ways to make the process more interesting and to convey its importance, she hit on design. In our conversation today, she relates how she began using architecture as a metaphor for strategic thinking.

In this episode, Jeanne offers insight into how to teach design thinking. The learning experience should be project-based, she explains. The project should matter to the people who are working on it. The learning experience should also be delivered in a way that meets where these people are in that project and avoids overwhelming them. She’ll also discuss some of the challenges that are facing design thinking as it continues to evolve. Jeanne explains why it is that the more you move into designing strategy and policy, the harder it is to use some of the powerful tools of design thinking.

Learn More About Today’s Guest

Jeanne Liedtka

Jeanne M. Liedtka at the University of Virginia

Jeanne Liedtka on LinkedIn

@jeanneliedka on Twitter

In This Episode

[02:17] — Jeanne kicks things off by sharing some of the journey that brought her to where she is today, and explores how she discovered and developed an interest in design thinking.

[06:48] — After spending five or six years exploring design thinking in business, it became obvious to Jeanne that a lot of the most powerful uses were happening in the social sector.

[08:08] — What were some of the surprises that Jeanne found while writing her most recent book?

[10:25] — Jeanne talks about what she would say or what advice she would give if she encountered someone at a party who was interested in bringing design thinking into what they do.

[13:07] — We hear more about Jeanne has seen the initial steps of getting out into the world (and out of the conference room) in terms of common challenges.

[16:38] — Jeanne discusses an example of what she has been talking about being done particularly well.

[20:05] — What are some of the emerging challenges facing design thinking as a methodology or toolkit?

[22:55] — Dawan takes a moment to talk about design thinking at the organizational level, in terms of reliability. Jeanne then talks about how things in design thinking are evolving on the measurement front.

[27:38] — From Dawan’s perspective, one of the benefits to having more measurement tools is related to having conversations with funders or people who need a different kind of evidence before trying a new way of solving problems.

[27:59] — In order to promulgate the method, we need to get serious about measurement, Jeanne explains.

[29:10] — Jeanne expands on the previous topic of emerging developments in the realm of strategy and design thinking by giving a specific example of the Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

[34:17] — One of the things that Jeanne is committed to is thinking about how to help people take this toolkit and accelerate the ways we’re using it toward more strategic policy-level questions.

[34:53] — What are some of the key things to keep an eye on with regard to how design thinking pushes into strategy and implementation?

[37:12] — Dawan is often asked how we prototype the intangible.

[39:41] — Jeanne talks about how design criteria factor into her approach to design thinking.

[43:51] — Jeanne offers a specific example of what she has been talking about.

[46:12] — What Jeanne has been talking about goes back to the idea of “job to be done,” she explains.

[47:22] — One of the other things that comes to mind for Dawan involves people’s first introduction to design thinking. Jeanne then talks about the relationship between design thinking and the assumptions that we carry into creating new stuff.

[51:08] — Jeanne talks more about making a good design team inside an organization.

[57:18] — We hear more about bringing people to a point where they can comfortably facilitate or lead design experiences with others.

[61:54] — What does Jeanne think about the “inside outsiders” in larger organizations?

[64:11] — Jeanne talks about what she would do if she had a magic wand she could wave and get thousands of people excited about researching a particular topic, and sharing the results with her.

[67:41] — Where can people find more about Jeanne, her work, and her books?

Links and Resources

Jeanne Liedtka

Jeanne M. Liedtka at the University of Virginia

Jeanne Liedtka on LinkedIn

@jeanneliedka on Twitter

The Catalyst: How You Can Lead Extraordinary Growth by Jeanne Liedtka

Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers by Jeanne Liedtka

The Physics of Business Growth: Mindsets, Systems, and Processes by Jeanne Liedtka

Solving Business Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works by Jeanne Liedtka

The Designing for Growth Field Book: A Step-by-Step Project Guide by Jeanne Liedtka

Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector by Jeanne Liedtka

Frank Gehry

Children’s Medical Center Dallas

Peter Senge