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BUS 254 W — Leadership by Design: Using Design Thinking to Transform Companies and Careers

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 3 weeks
Date(s): Jul 8—Jul 26
Drop Deadline: Jul 11
Unit: 1
Tuition: $550
Instructor(s): Christopher Ireland
Limit: 45
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is July 11 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is July 16 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Jul 8—Jul 26
3 weeks
Drop By
Jul 11
1 Unit
Christopher Ireland
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is July 11 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is July 16 at 5:00 pm (PT).
The leaders and employees of many companies navigate a space where competitors appear overnight, customers demand innovations monthly, and business plans rarely last a full year. This environment of constant change will only accelerate in the future, leaving many traditional business leaders ill-equipped to survive, let alone thrive. Just as we took our cues from MBAs and the military in casting the ideal CEO of the 20th century, we can look to design—in its broadest form—to model our future leaders. We call these leaders DEOs—design executive officers—because they are a hybrid of strategic business executive and creative problem-solver. These leaders are not necessarily trained designers or in design positions. They are people who possess characteristics, behaviors, and mindsets that allow them to excel in unpredictable, fast-moving, and value-charged conditions. This course provides an introduction to design-centered leadership and helps students cultivate the characteristics of DEOs. Through lectures, exercises, and guest speakers, we will explore the mindsets, communities, processes, and practices common to creative business leaders. We will learn how DEOs run their companies and why this approach makes sense. Students will learn how to identify these skills in themselves and their colleagues, and how to use them in their daily jobs.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 45 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

Please note: This course is intended for those who lead professionally or personally in their daily lives.

Students will need to purchase a $5 monthly subscription to Medium to complete class readings. They will need to log in at least every other day to review course materials and submit assignments. Please see the course syllabus for more details. Students should expect to spend eight to ten hours on the course.

Christopher Ireland, Adjunct Professor, Design, California College of the Arts; Co-Founder, Cheskin; Founder, Mix & Stir Studio

Christopher Ireland is a co-author of Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design and China’s New Culture of Cool. Previously, she was a founding partner and CEO of Cheskin, a consultancy focused on design innovation that supported Microsoft, Intel, PepsiCo, and Apple, among others. Ireland received an MBA from UCLA.