Organizational Psychology of Design Thinking

Empowering design thinkers to take on organizational change

Spring 2016
Tuesday/ Thursday from 10:30 – 11:50am
Studio 1
3 Units
Letter Grade

We’d like to introduce you to Samantha Palmer, a recent Stanford graduate who took several classes at the Each class further confirmed her belief in the importance of the design thinking process, methodology, and community. By the end of her Stanford career she truly believed that design thinking had the potential to change her life.

As graduation approached, Samantha found a position at a large tech company in Silicon Valley and was excited to bring the design thinking methodologies with her team. A few weeks into her new job, she asked her team if they wanted to talk to some users before launching into their next big project. She was met with a room of blank stares and apprehensive questions.

How might we give Samantha the skills she needs to change the mindset of her colleagues, spark design thinking at her company, and get her first design-driven project off the ground?

When you take a class at the, you walk away confident in your creative skills and fluent in the design process. However, when recent graduates (re)enter the workforce, they quickly become discouraged by the stagnancy of company cultures. They see the need to trigger and sustain change, but don’t have the understanding of organizational psychology to do so. Organizational Psychology of Design Thinking asks you to take on Samantha’s challenges.

Over the course of the semester, students will engage in 2 large-scale projects:
Project 1 (Empathy – Synthesis) – Working with partner companies, students will apply organizational psychology and design frameworks to better understand company culture.

Project 2 (Ideation – Testing) – Using their work from Project 1, students will prototype and test organizational changes in real company settings.


Accepting 24 students. Open to Graduate Students, Undergrads, Fellows, Post-Docs.
Application Closed

Teaching Team
Sam Yen, Chief Design Officer, SAP
Baba Shiv, Professor of Marketing, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Alex Scully, Design Thinking Strategist, SAP
Laura Pickel, Curriculum Designer, SAP
Anja Svetina Nabergoj, Lecturer  & Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana