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Designing for the Greater Good, Strategy + Design Thinking, and Measuring Design Thinking with Jeanne Liedtka — DT101 E1

Welcome to the Design Thinking 101 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.

Picture of Jeanne LiedtkaIn 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 Our Guest

Jeanne Liedtka
Jeanne M. Liedtka at the University of Virginia
Jeanne Liedtka on LinkedIn
@jeanneliedka on Twitter

Show Highlights

[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 common challenges Jeanne has seen when people take the initial steps of getting out into the world (and out of the conference room).
[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?


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

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Design for Good + Gut Checks + Seeing Power with George Aye — DT101 E50
Critical and Emancipatory Design Thinking with Lesley-Ann Noel — DT101 E57
Design for Good + Ethics + Social Impact with Sarah Cantor — DT101 E100

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