Beckman Receives California Management Review’s Accenture Award

Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman and co-author Michael Barry received the 2009 Accenture Award from the California Management Review (CMR) for their article “Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding Design Thinking.”

In their article, Beckman and Barry, an adjunct professor with the Stanford Design Program and founder of design research firm Point Forward, outline four core elements of design thinking — observation, framing, imperatives (needs or design principles), and solutions.
They ground these elements of design thinking in models of how people learn, describing which learning style is best suited to each element of design thinking. By doing so, they provide a model for achieving innovation among members of a team with different learning styles. Their model can be applied across a wide range of sectors, from hardware and software products to services to architecture.

"The innovation process as a learning model suggests that teams be composed of individuals who are polar opposites in how they take in and transform information," Beckman and Barry write. They add, "Good teams behave like bicycle racing teams, where individuals are assigned positions in the race because of their strengths, not because of seniority or some other measure."

The Accenture Award, which carries with it a cash prize of $2,500, is given to the authors of the article published in the previous year’s volume of CMR that has made "the most important contribution to improving the practice of management." Beckman and Barry will host a "design fest" to celebrate design thinking at the Haas School in the fall.

This year’s executive judges were Jack Caouette, chairman of Channel Capital Advisors; Barbara Desoer, MBA 77, president of home loans and insurance at Bank of America; Michael R. Gallagher, BS 67, MBA 68, chairman of the Haas Board and director of Allergan; Stephen Herrick, BS 60, president of Continental Capital Corp.; Nancy K. Lusk, CEO and president of The Lusk Company; and Robert Thomas, executive director of the Accenture Institute for High Performance Business.

Beckman is the fifth Haas School faculty member to receive this award. Previous Haas recipients were David Aaker (1995), David Teece (1999), Robert Cole (2000), and Jennifer Chatman (2004).

CMR recently published its Spring 2009 issue. To read the Spring 2009 issue or to subscribe to CMR, visit