5. FINAL: Applied Design Thinking

DAU_DAUmil_News_Workflow Learning Director Hire_20170509

Due: On or Before Tuesday, May 7th at 5:00 p.m. as an email attachment sent to me at; bdeboer@pacific.edu

Type “Applied Design Thinking” in the subject line.

Assignment Description:

Your FINAL assignment is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your understanding of the principals of Design Thinking by applying it to a practical business situation. You are to imagine that you are the principal partner of a new startup company that is in the process of developing a team of innovative thinkers and designers. This team will have primary responsibility for initiating and directing new product lines, diversification of company interests and overall product development. This kind of special group is commonly known as a Research and Development (R & D) group or might be associated with an Innovation Lab at other companies or institutions. (Examples of such companies include Nike, Starbucks, Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.)

You need to hire a Creative Director for this group.

R & D groups may focus specifically on topics such as new technologies, new procedures, alternative approaches, development, preventative measurements or methods of evaluation. Innovation Labs are typically dedicated to launching new products and services that improve the community as a whole. Discussions, brainstorming sessions, presentations, inventing, prototyping, product improvements/development and product testing are some examples of what goes on there. In short, an Innovation Lab or R & D Group is meant to be an incubator for ideas.

“Clichés about thinking outside the box might seem appropriate here, but real innovation requires thinking outside the warehouse where the boxes are stored.”
—“Criteria for Evaluating a Creative Solution”, Robert Harris, Virtual Salt, July 2012

To succeed in today’s rapidly changing, globally competitive environment, the only option is to innovate—to either make change or be changed. Innovation is the driver of change, and change is the most important driver of corporate and organizational strategy. Design Thinking is the link between innovation and business success.

design thinking applied

So, you must evaluate past performance and infer from those examples an individual’s ability to meet the challenges of  leadership in the position of Creative Director of a team of highly diverse thinking individuals from various backgrounds.—You must apply the basic principles of Design Thinking yourself to do this.


Your responsibility is to hire a Creative Director—a leader—for this team of diverse innovators. Everyone on the list below will be a part of the design team. From this list, who should be their Creative Director? You need to write a detailed recommendation that endorses or declares your choice to hire. Your recommendation must be written from one of four different hiring points-of-view that are each detailed below. You are to pick one of those points-of-view to direct how your report should be written or phrased.

The job description for this position includes the following desired qualifications. The ideal candidate should have a sound design philosophy grounded with the following goals in mind:

  • Empathy: design thinkers readily identify with the perspectives of colleagues, clients, end users, and customers. They use this insight to create desirable solutions, and fulfill product needs that even the user didn’t know they had.—A Desire to Create Emotional Impact
  • Integrative Thinking: design thinkers are able to grasp all aspects of a complex problem. By negotiating between conflicting ideas about the right way forward, they can develop a better solution. They integrate the best elements of those different ideas.—Adaptable to changing conditions, situations or requirements
  • Optimism: design thinkers believe that there is always a potential, a confidence as yet unrealized, that a solution exists that is better than what is already or presently being done.—A Desire to Inspire People to Act
  • Experimentation: design thinkers imagine radical change rather than trying to make incremental improvements. By doing this they drive innovation.—Must demonstrate an ability as a visionary thinker
  • Collaboration: design thinkers readily work with others, particularly those from different disciplines. Often they themselves have significant training and experience in several fields.—Must be knowledgeable of a variety of materials and processes, not just a specialist within one industry
  • Environmental Concern: A Desire to have Minimal Environmental Impact


  • The purpose of your recommendation is to organize and formulate your reasons for hiring one of the candidates on the list as its Creative Director.
  • Your hiring choice must be supported by referring to examples of your candidates previous work. Answer the question how his/her experience influenced his/her abilities in the past and therefore, make him/her the ideal candidate for Creative Director.
  • Your hiring choice must be supported by referring to examples of your candidates ability to show successful leadership. Answer the question how his/her leadership influenced his/her successes in the past and therefore make him/her the ideal candidate for Creative Director.
  • Your hiring choice must be supported by examples of your candidates method of Design Thinking Philosophy. You must link those examples to how/why they would be successful at this new job. Answer the question how his/her philosophy influenced his/her abilities in the past and therefore make him/her the ideal candidate for Creative Director.
    • Reading: Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation pages 156–199. Within your paper you must make connections between specific references in your text book on Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation and your candidates qualifications.
  • Indicate your choice by ranking your candidates strengths and weaknesses on a rubric using the qualifications detailed above (Empathy, Integrative Thinking, Optimism/Confidence, Experimentation, Collaboration, Environmental Concern). 
    • Apply Design Thinking to yourself in customizing this rubric. You can design it however you wish, But make it a tool that would be most helpful to you in coming to your decision objectively. (for example you might choose to compare your top three choices, not just one, using your rubric)
  • Include a 1/2 page paragraph summarizing the reasons for your choice.
  • Indicate which one of the following points of view you are choosing to base your recommendation.  (pick one of the following) 
    1. You are the sole principal owner. So your report is phrased as a letter of hire to the specific person you have chosen.
    2. You are one of a small group of principal owners. So your report is phrased to be a recommendation to your partners.
    3. You were charged with making the final hiring decision and so your report to the shareholders of your company is an announcement to them declaring your decision.
    4. You’re charged with making the report to your board of shareholders as a recommendation that they will make the final decision on.

Due: On or Before Tuesday, May 7th by 5:00 p.m. as an email attachment sent to me at; bdeboer@pacific.edu

Type “Applied Design Thinking” in the subject line.