In innovation, experimentation is much talked about in the abstract, but poorly understood in practice. It bridges solution generation and implementation, yet often takes the form of smaller-scale pilots rather than learning-oriented experiments. Building an evidence base behind new ideas, and particularly being ready to discard what doesn’t work, is critical for successful innovation. This technical note provides a hands-on, step-by-step guide and templates to lead students in any discipline through a structured process for the design of experiments, from what it takes to frame testable ideas all the way through to choosing the best experimental design and prototype.
For those interested in adding self or peer assessment to students’ design thinking learning journey, Professor Jeanne Liedtka, working with coauthors Karen Hold, Jessica Eldridge, and Treehouse Design, has synthesized more than a decade of research at Darden to create the Innovation Impact Assessment. This tool will help students identify personal development opportunities and provide them with practical guidance (in the form of detailed individual feedback reports) to accelerate skill development. The instrument identifies a set of five core competencies based on 44 behaviors that successful design thinkers have in common. It is available for individual use and bulk purchase via Darden Business Publishing at this link: https://store.darden.virginia.edu/innovation-impact-assessment.