Minnesota Nursing magazine

Leading change with design thinking

In June, Professor Daniel Pesut, PhD, RN, PMHCNSBC, FAAN, director of the Densford Center, delivered the keynote address at the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning annual conference. The conference theme was Simulation 2.0 Designing the Future. More than 800 people attended the opening session and listened to Pesut’s remarks, The Future of Learning with Design Thinking Mind.

Design thinking is a mindset and belief system that people can create change—no matter how big a problem, how little time or how small a budget. Pesut outlined the five phases of design thinking for educators: discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation and evolution. Design thinking begins with deep empathy and an understanding of the needs and motivations of people. It is enriched with the creativity, views and multiple perspectives of others. Incorporation of design thinking into learning activities stimulates innovation of new products, services and/or practices. Learning with design thinking in mind requires focused attention and the ability to navigate between and among abstract and concrete ideas while analyzing and synthesizing. A key strategy of design thinking is the oscillation between divergent and convergent thinking processes. As one generates new ideas, experiments, receives feedback and makes modifications on those ideas, innovation emerges. IDEO, an internationally-renowned design thinking organization, created Design Thinking for Educators, a web-based resource worth exploring.

If you want to explore design thinking and innovation more seriously, check out the School of Nursing’s Health Care Design and Innovation Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program. This certificate will provide you with the knowledge, skills and abilities to bring design thinking to your leadership and innovation efforts.


Katharine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership

Dan Pesut

Center Director:
Daniel J. Pesut, PhD, RN, FAAN

To improve health and health care worldwide through the education, collaboration,
and promotion of nurses as strong leaders and good partners.

For more information:
Phone: 612-625-1187
Email: densford@umn.edu