Jeanne Liedtka

Profiled as a THINKERS 50 thought leaders in business, Jeanne reflects on her work at the intersection of strategy and innovation, and the role Design Thinking plays as a social technology in creating more productive conversations across difference.


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DESIGN THINKING FOR THE GREATER GOOD: INNOVATION IN THE SOCIAL SECTOR

Facing especially wicked problems, social sector organizations are searching for powerful new methods to understand and address them. Design Thinking for the Greater Good goes in depth on both the how of using new tools and the why. As a way to reframe problems, ideate solutions, and iterate toward better answers, design thinking is already well established in the commercial world. Through ten stories of struggles and successes in fields like health care, education, agriculture, transportation, social services, and security, the authors show how collaborative creativity can shake up even the most entrenched bureaucracies—and provide a practical roadmap for readers to implement these tools.

 

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a problem-solving approach with a unique set of qualities: it is human centered, possibility driven, option focused, and iterative. We ask the question “What if anything were possible?” as we begin to create ideas. We focus on generating multiple options and avoid putting all our eggs in one particular solution basket. Because we are guessing about our stakeholders’ needs and wants, we also expect to be wrong sometimes. So we want to put multiple irons in the fire and let our stakeholders tell us which work for them. We want to manage a portfolio of new ideas.


Jeanne M. Liedtka is a faculty member at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and former chief learning officer at United Technologies Corporation, where she was responsible for overseeing all activities associated with corporate learning and development for the Fortune 50 corporation, including executive education, career development processes, employer-sponsored education and learning portal and web-based activities.

At Darden, where she formerly served as associate dean of the MBA program and as executive director of the Batten Institute, Jeanne works with both MBAs and executives in the areas of design thinking, innovation and leading growth. Her passion is exploring how organizations can engage employees at every level in thinking creatively about the design of powerful futures.

Jeanne's current research focuses on design-led innovation in the government and social sector, as does her forthcoming book, Designing for the Greater Good. Her previous books include: The Catalyst; How You Can Lead Extraordinary Growth (winner of the Business Week best innovation books of 2009); Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers (winner of the 1800 CEO READ best management book of 2011) and its accompanying field guide, The Designing for Growth Field Book: A Step by Step Guide; The Physics of Business Growth: Mindsets, System and Process; and Solving Business Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works.