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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Design Thinking
Module Code EF5175
School DCUBS
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Peter Robbins
Semester 2: Peter Robbins
Autumn: Peter Robbins
Module TeachersPeter Robbins
Joe Cullinane
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only

The prism of Covid-19 has shown us that business as usual is no longer an option and that although the Corona virus is a Black Swan event, businesses are operating in a truly VUCA environment. In the world of innovation, specifically, in the area of new product development, design thinking is possibly the number 1 emerging innovation approach and practice . Design Thinking has gained increasing attention in a wide range of contexts that extend far beyond the realm of traditional designers (Micheli et al., 2019) . In essence, the principal idea of design thinking is that “the ways professional designers problem-solve is of value to firms trying to innovate and to societies trying to make change happen”. Design Thinking helps inject fresh, original, more imaginative thinking into problem solving and innovation. Design thinking promises “innovation inspired by the way designers work” (Carlgren et al., 2016: p345). Design thinking refers to the approaches and methodologies developed in the field of design for abductively creating non-routine solutions to ill-defined problems. New product development (NPD) teams are increasingly adopting a design thinking philosophy which includes a guiding, growth mindset (Liedtka, 2015) as well as practical tools that facilitate their design practice . Design Thinking is now used as the leading approach to innovation by 60% of the world's leading firms (PwC, 2017). The primary objective is to achieve superior market success with innovative products. Essentially, design thinking involves taking an existing set of circumstances/products/services and converting them into preferred ones. Design Thinking is emerging as a panacea for businesses facing volatile operating conditions and it coincides with the emergence of other approaches, such as Lean and Agile. In particular, Lean Start Up Approaches (LSA’s) focus on innovation through market tests and early customer feedback, thus triggering a process known as the “build-measure-learn” loop (Blank, 2013; Ries, 2011). Agile Development practices involve multiple short plan-execution cycles governed by customer feedback and rapid change . The close relationship between lean and agile approaches is evidenced by the new term ‘Leagile’ which crosses agile with lean philosophies and underscores the intuitive link between them . Moreover, consulting firms such as Gartner have positioned the role of design thinking, LSA and agile, sequentially, in an innovation value chain . They propose the use of design thinking first to generate actionable insights about the customer and then deploying Lean Startup to create the innovation and then completing the process by using agile to build out the technology elements of the innovation ( Gartner, 2019). . In this module, we examine the mindset; the rules and the tools of design thinking and we unpack the practices which have made it so popular and effective as an innovation process.

Learning Outcomes

1. Understand the growth mindset underpinning the practice of design thinking
2. Be familiar with and able to use the toolset of design thinking
3. Understand the role of design thinking in organisations
4. Know which tool is most appropriate for each problem or opportunity
5. Be aware of the connections between design thinking and other modern approaches to innovation
6. Be comfortable working in teams using the tools to develop innovation projects/initiatives

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Workshop125Workload Description Classes will be a mixture of in-person delivery in DCU and remote delivery workshops. We will be doing creative workshops including facilitated brainstorming and concept development and we will host a number of guest speakers. There will be six half-day lectures of 4 hours duration.
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Extended Essay / DissertationStudents are required to complete an extensive analysis of the market/segment in which their client/employing firm competes. Using the tools fo design thinking, they will identify a number of possible opportunities for insight-led innovation and will develop one to the stage of MVP. They must present a compelling case to senior management as to why this proposition should be launched.This case must include: 1) Design Brief 2) Insight statement 3) Some consumer feedback 4) Detailed persona 5) Value Proposition Canvas Concept Board70%Week 5
Group project Students will be put into teams of five.They will be required to set out the overall principles (mindset, rules and tools) of Design Thinking and describe cases of its successful use in the food industry. They will then be asked to customise an innovation process for one specific food/beverage or horticulture company having regard to its core capabilities; it’s innovation ambition and its competitive context.30%Week 10
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Lewrick, Link and Leifer: 2018, The Design Thinking Playbook, 1, Wiley, London, 978-1-119-467
  • Liedtka & Ogilvie: 2015, Designing for Growth, 1st, All, Wiley, USA,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
MSIIMSc in Management (Insights & Innovation

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