During the pandemic, Professor Ed Freeman launched The Stakeholder Podcast on Apple Podcasts to bring the stakeholder model that pervades the Darden classroom to a global audience. With new episodes posted weekly, the podcast features business leaders, policymakers, academics, authors and even a few of your favorite Darden faculty members sharing lifetimes of experience managing, writing, working and creating value for stakeholders.
In a recent episode, Professor Freeman talks to Professor Jeanne Liedtka about her most recent book, Experiencing Design: The Innovator’s Journey. Drawing on their experience as colleagues and collaborators, they find that the common denominator in design thinking and managing for stakeholders is people. “Particular people, not people in the abstract,” says Liedtka. “Design thinking won’t let you get away with treating shareholders unidimensionally.”
“Design thinking,” she holds, “is strategy! It speaks directly to leaders’ obligation to a higher purpose, to hold up a more powerful vision of the future.” It asks, “Are we better at connecting with the people we serve than the people we compete against?”
Reflecting on their long careers teaching in Darden’s unique classrooms, Liedtka and Freeman discuss the pandemic, the drawbacks of the traditional MBA, and why the University of Virginia’s design was the key to the success of its human-centered, needs-level educational strategy.