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 customers’) 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 (online) 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 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). We will use a combination of lectures, cases, guest speakers, 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 and you can expect to spend full days (including evenings) working on the project.
Note: Creativity and innovation thrive on diversity of skills and opinions. To facilitate such diversity, this class will be listed as a Columbia Business School course as well as a Columbia SEAS (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences) course. We will accept 24 MBA students and 24 SEAS students. The class will be conducted online over Zoom. The class is experiential and interactive with a lot of teamwork during class time. Hence only students who can attend live class sessions on Zoom (i.e., for whom the Eastern Time zone works regardless of where you will be living) should register for the class. Two or three student teams that are based in New York City will meet in the Design Studio at Riverside Church, near campus, to work on the project and get advice from the faculty members from 4:30pm to 6:00pm each day of the week. Given social distancing regulations, and the expected number of teams based in NYC, we anticipate that each team is likely to meet in-person on only one day of the week. These meetings are optional. We will also use a digital workspace https://www.mural.co that will help teams collaborate and apply systematic creativity and design templates while working on their group projects online.
Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
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 and Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She served as the school’s Faculty Director of Online Initiatives from 2014 to 2017, Senior Vice Dean from 2011 to 2014, as the inaugural Vice Dean for...
Adam Royalty was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2019 to 2020.