Design Thinking for Innovative Business Problem Solving

  • New products, services and business models are only as successful as their ability to solve deep, painful problems for end users. Lead a mindset shift in your organization and embrace creativity as a tool; a step-by-step process to find and execute solutions that improve profits, efficiency, and customer satisfaction; and keep your business ahead of the innovation curve. This course, when taken after completion of your Specialization in Design Thinking and Innovation will help sharpen your design thinking expertise so that you can train your team and integrate design thinking into all aspects of your business.



  • At a Glance

    Solve complex business challenges and promote industry leadership with a systematic approach to creativity. In Design Thinking for Innovative Business Problem Solving, you'll bypass artistic abstraction and use design as a practical, everyday process to spur innovation and organic organizational growth. For senior leaders and innovation directors who need to integrate design thinking across their teams, this experiential program will prepare you to lead your own training initiatives by leveraging our online Specialization in Design Thinking and Innovation program within your own organization.

    The Program

    Bridge the gap between blue-sky brainstorming and specific, executable solutions to business problems and growth. In this course, you'll learn the best procedure for generating and testing concepts-one that combines brainstorming, visualization, and other right-brained thinking with traditional left-brained analysis. You'll learn to stop obeying the voice of critical reasoning, which curtails progress in challenging situations and leads to analysis paralysis. You'll study cases of designing thinking in action and work with peers and award-winning faculty to build a systematic solution for one of your current business issues. You'll also learn the right ways to engage customer feedback and solicit new ideas, and you'll prototype concepts and test your assumptions to discover which problems and solutions actually matter the most to your customers.

    Where You'll Excel

    • Learn how designers use big-idea thinking to make faster and smarter progress toward their goals-and how you can do it without strong intuition or a creative bent
    • Discover why traditional critical reasoning can actually increase the risk of innovation and cost of problem solving
    • Practice learning launches to make quick, meaningful decisions about moving new concepts forward
    • Reduce the new launch unknowns to a concrete list of challenges you can solve with existing resources
    • Generate new business offerings based on the needs and suggestions of your customers
    • Identify the sweet spot of innovation-exactly when to launch new product or service ideas and outpace your competition

    Schedule & Topics

    • Why Design Thinking?
    • The Design Process
    • The Design Tool Kit
    • Defining the Problem
    • Generating Deep Insights
    • Brainstorming and Concept Development
    • Co-Creating With Customers
    • Prototyping New Concepts
    • Launching to Learn


    You'll walk away from Design Thinking for Innovative Business Problem Solving with:

    • A 15-step process designed to solve one of your real-life challenges
    • A disciplined approach to brainstorming and the 10 steps to follow to get new ideas off the whiteboard and into production
    • Ways to resolve conflict during ideation and growth and adapt your design process when business conditions demand it
    • Ways to road test the growth potential of new ideas so you can minimize the risks and maximize the rewards inherent in growth and change
    • Stronger innovation skills and the ability to enhance them in others
    • Four communication aids that translate design thinking into your organization's established project management process


    This program is designed for managers and executives who want to bring their businesses to the forefront of innovation and more successful problem-solving. It's especially helpful for those who need to lead teams and cross-functional units in problem-solving initiatives and next-level growth ideation. 

    Former participants have recently used Design Thinking 's 15-step method to redesign internal processes to develop a new employee evaluation system, streamline a customer call center system, create a more effective sales tool kit, improve meal delivery to the elderly, revitalize urban spaces, create new social networking models, and improve education and leadership development within their organizations.


    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, where she formerly served as associate dean of the MBA program and as executive director of the Batten Institute, Jeanne works with both MBAs and executives in the areas of design thinking, innovation and leading growth. Her passion is exploring how organizations can engage employees at every level in thinking creatively about the design of powerful futures.

    Her current research focuses on design-led innovation in the government and social sector, as does her forthcoming book,  Designing for the Greater Good. Her previous books include:  The CatalystHow You Can Lead Extraordinary Growth (winner of the  Business Week best innovation books of 2009);  Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers (winner of the 1800 CEO READ best management book of 2011) and its accompanying field guide,  The Designing for Growth Field Book: A Step by Step GuideThe Physics of Business Growth: MindsetsSystem and Process and  Solving Business Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works.

    Location & Accommodations

    Darden School of Business
    Charlottesville, Virginia

    As a participant, you'll stay in a private room at the  Inn at Darden, our highly rated hotel adjacent to the classroom buildings and dining center. Accommodations are included in your tuition.

    Tuition & Certificates

    $7,750 covers materials, meals and accommodations at the Inn at Darden.

    By taking this course, you will earn one week of credit toward a Certificate of Specialization.