Design as a Storytelling Process: Implications for Teaching

Sara L. Beckman
Operations and Information Technology Group
Haas School of Business Berkeley, CA 94720-1900
Email: beckman@haas.berkeley.edu

Michael Barry
Hasso Plattner Institute of Design
Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305
Email: mbarry@pointforward.com

Abstract
Students struggle with design regardless of the process we use to teach them. They struggle in part because it is a messy and ambiguous process. They struggle in part because they lack the basic skills needed to engage in the process. And, they struggle in part because their learning orientations don’t support all of the key activities required in the design process.
In this paper, we identify some of the key difficulties we’ve seen student teams experience as they engage in the design process and describe the dominant learning style preference of the students we are teaching. We then offer a new framework based in storytelling for thinking about the design process, and describe the five basic skills we believe need to be developed if our students are to become better at design: empathy, generating insights, diverging, iterating and performance.

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