Note: This class will be listed as a Columbia Business School course as well as a SEAS course. We will accept 20 MBA students and 20 SEAS students. The course will be taught in the Design Studio at Riverside Church, near campus. The course is project-based and experiential and you will be expected to leave the classroom in the afternoons to conduct observational research, interviews, and to build and test prototypes.
Design thinking is a creative and systematic approach for solving problems by relying on human-centered and iterative processes. Human-centered refers to focusing on real people’s
(usually customer’s) needs and problems—as opposed to focusing on the problems of a demographic group or a segment. We will use methods such as observation and in-depth interviews
with real, individual consumers to develop products/services based on the insights we generate on the basis of interactions with these consumers. This emphasis on observation and interaction rather than surveys recognizes that we cannot know all the challenges faced by our customers without engaging with them directly. An iterative process refers to the notion that an initial solution need not be complete and elegant. Rather, design thinking focuses on building initial rough product prototypes that are based on deep customer understanding of “jobs to be done.” These prototypes are tested soon and often and constantly evolve. Experimentation plays a big role in testing and refining potential solutions.
This course will illuminate how Design Thinking can enhance innovation activities in terms of market impact, value creation, and speed. We will partner with a client and work on a live project during the course and the client will work closely with students during the week. We hope to strengthen your individual and collaborative capabilities to identify customer needs using indirect and qualitative research, create sound concept hypotheses, and develop a prototype (using the Maker Space on campus) that allows for meaningful feedback in a real-world environment.
The course will be taught by Professor Gita Johar and Adam Royalty (Designer-in-Residence at Columbia) in the Design Studio at Riverside Church. We will use a combination of lectures, cases, and hands-on project work. The project will give you an opportunity to come up with a creative solution to problems or challenges in a particular consumer context. This block-week course will be an intensive learning experience. Expect to spend full days (including evenings) working on the project, both in and out of the design studio.
Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business
Gita V. Johar (PhD NYU 1993; MBA Indian Institute of Management Calcutta 1985) has been on the faculty of Columbia Business School since 1992 and is currently the Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business. She served as the school’s inaugural Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from 2019 to 2021, Faculty Director of Online Initiatives from 2014 to 2017, Senior Vice Dean from 2011 to 2014, and as the inaugural...