Design Thinking: A Toolkit for Breakthrough Innovation

Kellogg Executive Education’s Design Thinking: A Toolkit for Breakthrough Innovation program offers participants a powerful framework for recognizing opportunities, generating and testing new ideas, and realizing new solutions.

Through a combination of interactive sessions, guest lectures, and demonstrations, Kellogg School of Management professor and IDEO designer David Schonthal will take you on an experiential learning journey that covers the entire arc of the design process from inspiration to implementation — and every step in between. Regardless of your role or industry, you will walk away from the program equipped with the tools and techniques to apply this design approach to a wide array of products, services, interfaces, and interactions.

Online Programs
Design Thinking: A Toolkit for Breakthrough Innovation

Who Should Attend

  • Product or service managers seeking an innovative, consumer-oriented strategy that minimizes the risk of bringing a new product to market by developing deep insights, rapid prototyping, and designing thoughtful experiments
  • Designers who want to address people’s need (both stated and unstated) through creative thought processes and advance their careers with a hands-on certificate program
  • Consultants who want to offer clients far more differentiated and disruptive solutions using a step-by-step method of problem solving and integrated design thinking approaches
  • C-suite professionals, heads of business, and entrepreneurs who recognize that gaining an edge and increasing market share require re-imagining their businesses from the bottom up and wish to make design thinking an inherent philosophy in their organizations
  • Individuals or teams that are developing transformational business models and searching for new ways to bring offerings to the market with lower risk and strong customer focus

Key Benefits

  • Learn to apply design thinking fundamentals to ensure that a solution is desirable from a human point of view and aligns with what is technologically feasible and economically viable
  • Develop an in-depth understanding of the full design process from inspiration to implementation and learn to transform an idea into an innovative product or service
  • Gain hands-on experience with key methods and tools including Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework for customer discovery, synthesis, ideation, prototyping, and storytelling to create and communicate offerings that address customer needs
  • Learn how design thinking is used to conceive innovative business models and forecast trends and developments
  • Discover how design thinking can nurture your individual creativity, help you overcome resistance to new ideas, and provide advantages such as reduced time-to-market, lower costs, and increased market share
  • Implement design thinking as a rigorous, human-centered approach to creative problem solving that can be leveraged across a spectrum of functions, industries, and organizations

Program Content

Module 1: Introduction to Design Thinking

Survey the fundamentals of design thinking and learn how they apply to solving business problems.

  • Define the concept of design thinking
  • Apply its principles to catalyze innovation
  • Demonstrate how the process helps professionals solve challenging business problems
  • Challenge assumptions using a rigorous, human-center approach to creative problem solving

Module 2: The Power of Why

Examine the functional, social, and emotional needs of users and stakeholders, and explore the connection between those needs and the decision-making process.

  • Apply the JTBD method of interviewing to yield powerful insights into consumer needs and behaviors
  • Zero in on the moment of struggle that underlies a customer’s decision to “purchase” a product, service, or experience
  • Identify the push and pull factors that influence your customers’ decisions
  • Understand the timeline of events in the decision-making process, and target your messaging effectively

Module 3: Translating Observations to Insights

Transform observations into meaningful insights that fuel innovation, using the process of synthesis.

  • Externalize your data using the power of storytelling
  • Identify common themes in your data to better understand your customers’ desired progress

Module 4: Reframing Opportunities and Generating Ideas

Learn how to generate novel ideas using insights captured during synthesis.

  • Employ ideation as a generative process for developing design principles
  • Apply the techniques of reframing and group brainstorming to develop actionable ideas and articulate business challenges
  • Reframe questions to promote revolutionary innovation
  • Follow the rules of brainstorming to support effective ideation

Module 5: Making Ideas Real

Discuss methods for prototyping ideas and testing their underlying assumptions.

  • Implement prototyping to learn, communicate, and validate
  • Apply the concepts and tools to develop a solution for your business
  • Discuss techniques for executing and testing ideas, including sketches, mock-ups, videos, and storyboards
  • Challenge assumptions about when, how, and why to prototype

Module 6: Overcoming Resistance to New Ideas and Change

New ideas frequently encounter resistance, often from the very people they are meant to help. Use the principles of friction theory to recognize and address factors that hinder the customer journey.

  • Explain why consumers are often reluctant to adopt new ideas
  • Use a friction map to identify bottlenecks
  • Align remedies with forces of friction to overcome resistance

Module 7: Nontraditional Domains for Design Thinking

See how design thinking is making a difference in unexpected ways.

  • Anticipate trends and development in the field
  • Hear guest lecturers from a variety of firms and industries reflect on future trends to inspire your journey to innovation

Module 8: Designing Communications that Moves People

Apply creative techniques to design ways of communicating that are as unique as your ideas.

  • Use visualization, storytelling, and design fiction to bring your ideas to life
  • Leverage communications strategies to promote innovation and overcome resistance to new ideas
  • Discuss the role of media and technology in communications design
  • Build compelling stories using a narrative structure that comprises an emotional and a business arc


David Schonthal - Academic Director; Clinical Professor of Strategy; Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at Kellogg; Faculty Director of Zell Fellows Program; Director of the Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice


What is the program about?

Design Thinking will allow you to view opportunity through a different lens; a nontraditional one that focuses on human needs. Ideas that are born from the process of design thinking ensure that outcomes meet three criteria: they are desirable, feasible, and viable—and in doing so, these outcomes create an enduring competitive advantage.

What is the learning experience?

Your learning experience will consist of frameworks delivered via video lectures, live webinars, real world examples and case studies, application of frameworks through weekly activities, customized assignments and quizzes, discussion boards, and faculty engagement.

What is the program format?

The program consists of 8 modules delivered over 8 weeks online. Learners can expect to dedicate 4-6 hours per week to watch videos, complete assignments and participate in discussions.

Could a learner choose to opt out of some topics?

No. This is an online program in which a topic module is introduced each week and the learner is expected to watch the video lectures, participate in the optional live webinars, complete the exercises/activities and take the mastery quiz at the end of each week to progress to the subsequent week’s topic.

How much time is allocated to complete assignments?

The due date for submitting assignments is typically within 7 days of the module opening, but can be as long as 14 days, depending on the scope of the assignment. However, learners may request deadline extensions to accommodate for business and personal conflicts that may arise during the program timeframe. Reach out to the program leader to discuss any challenges you may have in completing assignments.

Can participation in this program be counted as credit toward a degree, either at Kellogg, Northwestern University or another academic institution?

No. Executive Education offers only non-degree programs and each participant receives a certificate of completion at the end of the program. This certificate does not count as credit toward a degree. In addition, at this time, our online programs do not count as credit toward a Kellogg Executive Scholar Certificate.

Does the program offer community engagement for learners?

Yes, participants can create a profile, connect and collaborate with peers, and interact with academic/industry experts such as program leaders and teaching assistants. Office hours will be held during the program and all participants are welcome to join in with questions or to discuss assignments.

What are the requirements for accessing the program?

Participants will need the following to access the The Art and Science of Innovation program:

  • Valid email address
  • Computing device connected to the internet (Mac/PC/laptop, tablet or smartphone)
  • The latest version of your preferred browser to access our learning platform (Chrome and Firefox are preferred for accessing Canvas)
  • Microsoft Office and PDF viewer to access content such as documents, spreadsheets, presentations, PDF files, and transcripts
  • Additional software and resources may be required for certain programs – this will be communicated upon registration and/or at the beginning of the program
  • PLEASE NOTE: Google, Vimeo and YouTube may be utilized in the program delivery

Does the program offer a certificate?

Yes. Participants will receive a digital certificate of completion from Kellogg following a successful conclusion to the program. Since this program is graded as a pass or fail, participants must receive an 80% to pass and obtain the certificate. This digital certificate can be shared with colleagues and posted on LinkedIn. (PLEASE NOTE: We do not provide reports of assessments, or “transcripts,” since this is a non-degree program.)

Who is Emeritus and what is their relationship with Kellogg Executive Education?

Kellogg Executive Education is partnering with Emeritus Institute of Management, an online education provider, to develop and deliver this program. By working with Emeritus, we are able to provide broader access to Executive Education, beyond our on-campus offerings, in a collaborative and engaging format that is consistent with Kellogg’s standard of quality.

Additional questions?

Please contact us by calling 847-467-6018 or email us at

Kellogg School of Management

James L. Allen Center
2169 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208