Leading Change Through Design



Experiential Learning

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Executive Learning and Organizational Change is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®

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Course Overview

Design thinking offers the potential to create an agile, human-centered approach to the continuous change that most of us now face in our organizations. But leading change through design thinking depends on having the right set of methods and frameworks to help guide you along the way. This course will introduce you to those design methods and frameworks, including how to lead a discovery process to better empathize with those who will be impacted by a change, how to lead idea generation to avoid narrowly-framed solutions, and how to implement change through a test to learn approach that allows for iteration and feedback. As a participant in this course, you'll walk away with new tools and methods to more effectively lead change in environments requiring agility.

Remote 5 days | 2 hours per day + prep

  • Wednesday, 7 to 9 p.m. CT 
  • Wednesday, 7 to 9 p.m. CT
  • Wednesday, 7 to 9 p.m. CT
  • Wednesday, 7 to 9 p.m. CT
  • Wednesday, 7 to 9 p.m. CT


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Who Should Attend

  • We designed this course for individuals who depend on creating innovative solutions and who need greater agility in their organizations or teams; when the tools of the past are not up to the challenges we currently face. Practitioners in for-profit and non-profit industries will both benefit from the course. No previous design experience is needed.

Questions Will We Answer

  • What are the fundamental elements of the human-centered design process and practice?
  • How do we apply design practices to lead organizational change efforts?
  • What are the challenges in adapting design practices for organizational change? How do I get my organization to embrace this approach? How might we use design methods to approach that change?

Benefits and Outcomes

  • Have a more productive set of tools to lead a change process.
  • Receive coaching from instructors and peers on a current or future change initiative.
  • Develop a network of like-minded peers to support your efforts.

Program Content

Session 1: Overview of Change & Design
  • What it means to take a design thinking approach to change.
  • Practice reframing the change at your work with your team coaching circle.
Session 2: Discovery Methods
  • Generating insights and inspiration from those impacted by change.
  • How to synthesize discovery into productive insights.
Session 3: Ideation and Testing to Learn
  • Generating new ways to approach change.
  • Taking an experimental mindset to test and iterate.
Session 4: Interviewing and Journey Mapping
  • Interviewing to engage people in leading change.
  • Practice journey mapping to visualize the change process.
Session 5: Divergent Thinking and your Personal Case
  • Designing interventions for various stages of your journey map.
  • Testing, refining, and iterating your approach through engaging others.

Earn Continuing Education

  • ELOC is recognized by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This course is Vail for 15 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP or 1.5 IACET CEUs.
  • To earn the Professional Development Credits and Continuing Education Units, participants must attend each session and complete 1-hour of pre-work prior to each of the five sessions.


  • What is the learning experience?
    This course will be an engaging, social experience. You'll meet fellow students during our live, virtual sessions and build a community to help support you moving forward. You'll have a chance to share the challenges you are facing and have the instructors and your team coaching circle help support and coach you on the next steps you need to take.
  • What is the program format?
    The program consists of five sessions: one evening a week over five weeks. Each session is two hours with one hour of pre-work for each session. There will be a combination of short lectures, simulation activities, and breakout groups with your team coaching circles.
  • Does the program offer community engagement for learners?
    Yes, participants will interact with others like-minded professionals to both receive coaching on their current challenges and learn about similar challenges of your peers. All conversations are confidential.
  • Do I need to be leading a change initiative to take this course?
    No, the course will build your skills by expanding your repertoire to create positive change in the future.
Ryan Smerek


Ryan Smerek

Ryan E. Smerek is associate professor and assistant director of academic affairs in the Master's of Science in Learning and Organizational Change program at Northwestern University. He is the author of Organizational Learning and Performance: The Science and Practice of Building a Learning Culture and a thought leader in organizational learning and performance, innovation and decision-making with a background in academia and culture and leadership consulting.

Maggie Lewis


Maggie Lewis

Maggie Lewis is a member of the leadership team at, a digital consultancy, and a graduate of the Masters in Learning Organizational Change Program at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy. Combining theory and practice, Maggie employs principles of design thinking, learning and strategic change to increase organizational effectiveness.