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Dani Chesson, Ph.D. is a 2017 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dr. Chesson with Dissertation Committee, July 2017, Yellow Springs, Ohio

L-R: Dr. Shannon Finn Connell, Committee Member, Dr. Mitch Kusy, Committee Chair, Dr. Dani Chesson, Dr. Carol Baron, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Mitch Kusy, Ph.D., Chair
  • Carol Baron, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Shannon Finn Connell, Ph.D., Committee Member

This dissertation is accompanied by two supplemental files available at the bottom of this page:

  • Executive Summary
  • Author's Introduction Video - also streaming at the top of this page

Document Type


Publication Date



This study developed a scale for assessing design thinking capabilities in individuals. Many organizations today are turning to design thinking to tackle the complex challenges they face. As organizations move toward adopting this way of working the need to develop design thinking capabilities in individuals becomes imperative. The capabilities needed for engaging in design thinking are skills that we all have to some varying degree, but we do not all use them to their full potential when solving problems. The scale developed in this study measures the degree to which an individual uses design thinking capabilities when engaged in problem solving. The research process involved a two-phase mixed methods design. In Phase 1, 536 individuals responded to an online survey. The data collected were analyzed using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. A new scale was developed that identified the three core capabilities needed to engage in design thinking: Solution Optimism, Visual Expression, and Collaborative Discovery. In Phase 2, 10 respondents from Phase 1 were selected to participate in follow-up interviews. Findings from the second phase of the study indicated the scale was perceived to accurately measure the use of design thinking capabilities in individuals when engaged in problem solving. Participants commented that this profile was unlike any other assessments they have taken in the past because this profile focuses on skills not emphasized in other assessments. Therefore, the new scale could be used along with other assessments to get a complete view of an individual’s skill set. The findings also indicate that this profile will be useful for executive coaches, change management practitioners, educators teaching design related courses, leaders engaged in team development, and for researchers exploring design thinking capabilities. This dissertation is accompanied by an Executive Summary [pdf] and the author’s MP4 video introduction (for transcript see Appendix I). This dissertation is available in open-access at OhioLink ETD Center,, and AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive,


Dani Chesson, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #

Designer turned change manager, turned strategy consultant, Dani Chesson is the founder of Chesson Consulting, a consulting practice focusing on helping clients unlock their full potential for innovation and change

Driving innovation and creating change has been the center of Dani's career and research interest. Throughout her career, Dani has helped organizations develop new products and services, adopt emerging technologies, and successfully implement large-scale transformational change. Prior to starting Chesson Consulting, Dani served in leadership and consulting roles at Bank of America, Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting, Sherpa, LLC, and HSBC. Dani holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a focus in graphic design. She holds a Master of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Organization Development from Queens University of Charlotte where her research focused on how designers approach their work. Dani earned a Ph.D. in Leadership and Organizational Change from Antioch University where her research involved developing Chesson's Design Thinker Profile, a scale for measuring design thinking capabilities. To learn more about design thinking and the profile visit

Dani can be contacted by email at

Executive_Summary_Chesson2017.pdf (154 kB)
Executive Summary of this dissertation

Intro_Video_Chesson2017.mp4 (45728 kB)
Dissertation Introduction Video - Chesson