Design Thinking

Although there's no proof Henry Ford said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” his alleged quip embodies the need for design thinking. Sometimes people can verbalize a need. "I want a bigger tv screen." "I wish this cell phone case came in blue." Those are product enhancements. "I wish I had a wine glass holder that hung around my neck." "I wish I had a mop that I could attach to my baby." Those are Sky Mall products. But the most revolutionary innovations are ones people may not have been able to identify. They come about only by understanding the user and employing creativity and a deep understanding of the context to arrive at innovative solutions, and then iterating on those solutions to find and perfect the best one. Innovations big and small can benefit from a design thinking mindset – of approaching a problem from an informed position while keeping the user in the forefront.

This course offers the chance to learn Design Thinking - a human-centered, prototype driven process for solving problems and discovering new opportunities. We will be biased toward action and learn by doing. Participants will work in small, multi-disciplinary teams and dive into a hands-on innovation challenge from start to finish.

Want to take this class?

We’ve launched so many amazing designers into the wild. Will you be part of the next crew?

This course will be part of our upcoming course set. More information on specific dates and times are coming soon.

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Career and financial assistance is available during signup.
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Marlene Hernandez


Gaby Scarritt and Paul Girgis from Steelcase

coLearning works closely with Steelcase to create the Design Thinking experience for you, the coLearner. Our collaborative team of industry-leading instructors will teach you the methods and process of Design Thinking.  

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Course Goals

Understanding the Design Thinking Process

We'll go through an overview of the design thinking process and it's major phases or steps: frame the problem, understand, observe, synthesize, prototype, measure, and communicate.

Access your Creative DNA

There's a stigma around needing to be a designer in order to use design thinking. We're here to tell you this is not the case. Many people at different ranks use the process of design thinking to learn how to think differently, to gain a new perspective, to approach problems in different ways, and to see the world a little differently. It's truly a new mindset that is already present within you; you just might need a little help bringing it out.

Ensure the "Right" Problem is Being Solved

Problems are much easier to solve if you know exactly what they are, and they're much more impactful if you know you have the right one. Within a topic area, we will frame the right problem to solve by questioning our assumptions and ensuring the problem is focused on the user.

Know the User, Know the Context

Once we have our general problem defined, we must seek to know the context and the users involved. What is the user doing? Where? How? Why? This includes primary methods, such as interviewing, observation, participatory design, and secondary methods, or collecting information from published work.

Drawing Insights from the Data

Once you've collected data about the user and the context, how do you make sense of it? In synthesis, we will draw connections between ideas and observations to identify patterns. These patterns will lead to insights that will help us identify opportunity areas and potential solutions.

Prototype, Measure, Iterate

Now that we have a general idea of what solutions we might create, the prototyping phase is where we make those ideas tangible. We will build prototypes not only to help us express our ideas but to learn from them. After some iteration, we will put our prototypes to the test to see if they meet the user needs.


This is your ability to communicate stories, ideas, concepts and learnings. Stories are sticky, facts and data can be forgotten, so when you need your work to reach to your stakeholders and possible customer, you need to make them part of your experience by showing your work in an impactful way.

Building your Design Thinking Toolkit

Throughout the course, you’ll be implementing a number of exercises to gain insights and test theories. As you’re working through your project, you’ll be simultaneously building your design thinking toolkit by documenting the exercises and creating your own tests that are transferrable and applicable to present and future projects.

Before Class You Should Know

  • An intense curiosity of the world around you
  • The willingness to look at, and approach, challenges and opportunities from a different lens
  • The ability to work collaboratively with individuals from different disciplines

After Class You Will Understand

  • Key principles and tactics of design thinking
  • Ability to lead and drive the design thinking process
  • Frameworks for developing deep consumer insights
  • How to reduce risk and accelerate learning through rapid prototyping
  • Key tools and methods of design

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