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Design Thinking and Innovation

Course Number 1344

Professor Srikant M. Datar
Professor Rajiv Lal

Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits
23 sessions; Paper


Career Focus


"Innovation & Design Thinking" will allow students to develop basic skills in creative problem solving, innovation, and human-centered "design thinking." Innovation has become increasingly important because of the rapid evolution in products and business models and the ever more complicated world in which businesses and organizations operate. The course focuses on the manager's or leader's role as an innovator and facilitator of innovation by others.


Educational Objectives


The primary objective of the course is to help students develop creative thinking skills-key to innovation. These include the ability to gain deep insights about users (the core of design thinking), to define and reframe problems, and to generate solutions or alternative approaches that are more effective than those that already exist. As Richard J. Boland and Fred Collopy write:


What is needed in management practice and education today is the development of a design attitude. ...The decision attitude assumes it is easy to come up with alternatives to consider, but difficult to choose among them. ...The design attitude…is concerned with finding the best answer possible, given the skills, time, and resources of the team, and takes for granted that it will require the invention of new alternatives (Boland & Collopy).


As future managers, these skills also include the ability to identify innovative individuals, form innovative teams, and build innovative cultures within organizations. The course takes the view that innovative problem solving and design thinking can be learned through repeated practice. Students will engage in exercises, projects, and reflections to explore various methods and approaches to innovative problem solving and design thinking. The course will introduce a variety of tools and techniques (“props”) that, with repeated use, will help students think more expansively, creatively, and effectively through all phases of an innovation project.