Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Brett Taylor

First Committee Member

Martin Martinez

Second Committee Member

Robert Calvert


The purpose of this study is to examine what happens when design thinking is used to create a leadership development program, increase leadership competencies, and participants perceptions of design thinking. This study uses action research to examine the experiences and design thinking to create a leadership program in a formal hierarchical. This study collected data during a two-cycle action research process. The findings from this study revealed that design thinking can be used to create a formal leadership development program. The ability to use design thinking’s human centered design can also help increase the leadership competencies of trust and collaborations. Additionally, despite early concerns participants enjoyed using design thinking in this study yet concerns remain about adopting it into core work. These findings have important implications for formal organizations exploring the ability to increase leadership development programs, leadership competencies, and organizational innovation.