Darden School Announces New Design Thinking Resources for Business Managers and Educators

27 September 2013

Two new books, a webinar series and a Coursera course on design thinking among the new resources rolled out this fall

The Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business today announced a broad range of new resources to empower educators, managers and others to integrate design thinking into business and educational settings. These resources, including two books, a webinar series and a free online course on Coursera, outline the strategies and processes needed to apply design thinking to solve the toughest business and innovation challenges.

Design thinking is a problem solving approach in which managers apply the mindset and approaches of designers to develop innovative products, processes and business models to fuel growth and innovation and differentiate companies in crowded markets.

Leading in the field of design thinking is Darden Professor Jeanne Liedtka, who works with both MBA students and executives to explore how organizations can engage employees at every level in thinking creatively about solving problems and pursuing opportunities by using the tools of design. Liedtka recently received the honorary Medal of the Order of Australia for her role in developing leaders in the museum profession.

“We hear a lot of talk about innovation as a key strategic capability in business today. What is often missing are the kinds of processes and tools that managers need to turn talk into reality,” said Liedtka. “That is exactly what design thinking can bring – a clear and teachable set of tools and processes that designers have used for decades but business people have no idea even exist. Design literacy will be an indispensable part of every manager’s toolkit. At Darden we intend to lead that effort, not follow it.”


Design-oriented firms including Apple and IDEO have demonstrated how design thinking can improve business results. Liedtka’s Solving Problems With Design Thinking: 10 Stories of What Works, co-authored by Darden Senior Researcher Andrew King, and Kevin Bennett, shares 10 compelling vignettes about managers who applied design methods to creatively solve pressing issues – drawing on examples of leading businesses and organizations, including 3M, Toyota, IBM, Intuit and SAP. Solving Problems with Design Thinking is currently available through Columbia University Press and Amazon.

The Designing for Growth Field Book by Liedtka, Tim Ogilvie and Darden Visiting Executive Lecturer Rachel Brozenske, a companion to Liedtka and Ogilvie’s Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers, provides a step-by-step framework for applying a design thinking methodology to a particular project. The field book will be available in December 2013 and is an excellent resource for educators and others new to teaching design thinking. Preview copies are available on Net Galley and selected templates from the book will be available at Design@Darden (www.designatdarden.org). Liedtka developed Design@Darden with the support of Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.


Liedtka will host a series of webinars over the next 12 months. She will highlight the use of design thinking to solve major challenges faced by organizations including multinational corporations, startups, and government and nonprofit entities. Liedtka will focus the case-based webinar discussions on the challenges, resolutions and lessons learned by each organization. Additional webinar details will be announced separately and will be posted at www.designatdarden.org.


In the free massive open online course (MOOC) “Design Thinking for Business Innovation”  that will begin 4 November, Liedtka will navigate participants through a design thinking approach to solving traditional problems, such as accelerating pressures for growth and innovation. She will host in-person sessions in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a complement to her course, and will encourage participants to do the same in their local city centers. Visit Coursera to register or learn more.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia