Design Thinking for Innovative Problem Solving: A Step-by-Step Project Course (ONLINE COURSE)

  • One of the hottest topics in the business world, design thinking helps you break through your messiest business problems with a systematic approach to uncovering creative insights and new solutions.

  • At a Glance

    In this new online program, you'll apply the design-thinking process to one of your real-life challenges. Using a clear, guided process that combines creative right-brained thinking-such as brainstorming and visualization-with traditional left-brained analysis, you will reach an innovative solution.

    The Program

    In Design Thinking Online , you'll work through a 15-step problem-solving process using design methodologies and innovation tools. Using recorded video instruction and peer review, you'll apply each of these steps to solve your challenge. You'll study real-life case studies that show design thinking in action for organizations both large and small and in corporate and nonprofit settings. Community forums and peer feedback will help you develop a range of innovative solutions to your challenge.

    This course uses a project field book that we will put to use immediately in week one. The book is called The Designing for Growth Field Book: A Step-by-Step Project Guide and is available on Amazon.

    Upon successful completion of the course, participants are eligible to receive a Statement of Accomplishment from the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation.

    The requirements for successful completion include:

    • Watching all course videos
    • Thoughtful participation in the course forum; at least one forum post per week
    • Successful upload of the five deliverables identified: Design Brief, Design Criteria, Assumptions, Napkin Pitch, and Learning Launch
    • Completion of the end-of-course survey

    Where You'll Excel

    Here are just a handful of examples of how organizations use design thinking to solve their biggest challenges.

    Redesign internal processes:

    • Develop a new employee evaluation system
    • Streamline a customer call center system
    • Enliven strategic planning processes

    Deepen customer/stakeholder engagement:

    • Create powerful co-creation conversations with customers
    • Improve the sales tool kit

    Address pressing social sector issues:

    • Improve meal delivery to the elderly
    • Revitalize urban spaces

    Improve education and leadership development:

    • Embed new capabilities for creative thinking in organizations
    • Create new social networking models

    Please email to be added to our growing list of those interested in Darden's Specialization in Innovation.

    This is a well-planned and produced online learning program, giving managers effective tools and mindset to identify problems and develop the right solutions! My team had a good taste of what Design Thinking could do and we are excited to apply it to our business.

    Calvin Lai, Manager, Application Development, Sprint Corp.

    The course was a big help in breaking down some long-held beliefs in the way we do our business. Thanks a lot for a new way of thinking.

    Abhilash Mehrotra, KVH Media Group

    The course has been very insightful! I find the design thinking approach very promising in today's fast changing world, where challenges are more complex and involved.

    Prashant Godbole, Director, Godbole Gates Pvt Ltd.

    Schedule & Topics

    • Preparing your mind for innovation
    • Selecting your project
    • What is? Assessing today's customer/stakeholder experience
    • What if? Envisioning new possibilities
    • What wows? Finding the "wow" zone where user needs and organizational capabilities meet
    • What works? Learning in action


    You'll walk away from Design Thinking Online with:

    • Learn the design thinking problem-solving process that is organized through 15 steps and four questions: What is? What if? What wows? What works?
    • Identify the right problems for design thinking to solve
    • Push beyond conventional ideas to exciting concepts for new possibilities
    • Rigorously evaluate possible solutions
    • Identify key assumptions that must be true for success
    • Create a prototype of the innovative change you're seeking
    • Determine whether your solution can be implemented and create value


    This program is open to professionals from any industry who want to solve problems more creatively using new methods and tools. No prior experience with design thinking is necessary.

    Please note: participants will need to devote approximately 32 hours to this program in total (including watching the video instruction and completing assignments), over the course of eight weeks.


    Jeanne Liedtka

    United Technologies Corporation Professor of Business Administration
    Jeanne M. Liedtka is the former chief learning officer at United Technologies Corporation, a Fortune 50 corporation where she was responsible for overseeing corporate learning and development. At Darden, she formerly served as associate dean of the MBA program and as executive director of the Batten Institute. She authored The Catalyst: How You Can Lead Extraordinary Growth , which was one of Bloomberg Businessweek' s best innovation books of 2009;  Designing for Growth , which was named the best management book of 2011 by 800-CEO-READ; and Solving Problems with Design Thinking: 10 Stories of What Works .


    This program is conducted entirely online.

    Over the eight weeks of the program, participants will view a total of six hours of recorded video instruction and complete about 14 hours of field work, assignments and peer-to-peer project evaluation.

    This program features:


    • Carefully crafted video instruction in the systematic 15-step process
    • Community forums to support participant process
    • Selected readings from best-selling textbook
    • Engaging stories showcasing design thinking at work
    • Interviews with successful designers
    • Video-based tool kit library
    • Peer review and feedback at milestone points


    Tuition & Certificates

    $395. Payment is required in advance of the program and is not refundable or transferable after the start of the program.

    Upon successful completion of the course, participants are eligible to receive a Statement of Accomplishment from the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation.