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Sara L. Beckman - Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA, US

Sara L. Beckman Sara L. Beckman

Teaching Professor | Earl F. Cheit Faculty Fellow | Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley


Expert in integrating design, critical and systems thinking skills for framing and solving problems in multi-disciplinary teams


Areas of Expertise (5)

Design and Systems Thinking

Integrating Design into Business

Sustainable Design

Innovation as Problem Framing and Solving

Teaming by Design


Sara Beckman has spent her years as a boundary spanner at UC Berkeley, where she has held faculty appointments in both the Haas School of Business and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She served as Chief Learning Officer for the newly formed Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation and facilitated the creation of a multi-disciplinary Certificate in Design Innovation. She teaches courses such as Collaborative Innovation which integrates Art Practice, Theater and Dance Performance Studies and Business perspectives on both collaboration and innovation.

Beckman’s research focuses on the pedagogy of teaching design and on the role of diversity on design and innovation teams for which she developed a Teaming with Diversity curriculum that is being used in classes in engineering, biological sciences, humanities and business courses at UC Berkeley as well as at a local high school. She has published case studies on design for sustainability, design roadmapping, and leveraging design approaches in sales processes.

Beckman directs the Product Management Program for the Berkeley Center for Executive Education, serving over 350 product managers from around the world each year and works with a wide variety of companies teaching and helping them implement design and innovation practices. In her time at UC Berkeley, she has received three Distinguished Teaching Awards at Haas, the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2018 the Carol D. Soc Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award for Senior Faculty.

Before joining UC Berkeley, Beckman worked in the Operations Management Services group at Booz, Allen & Hamilton and ran the Change Management Team at Hewlett-Packard. She received BS, MS and PhD degrees in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management and an MS in Statistics from Stanford University.



Sara L. Beckman Publication




Beyond Design Thinking - Sara Beckman Design Thinking & Innovation | UC Berkeley Executive Education | Sara Beckman Sara Beckman, Senior Lecturer - Dimensions in Design - Haas School


Education (4)

Stanford University: PhD, Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management

Stanford University: MS, Statistics

Stanford University: MS, Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management

Stanford University: BS with Distinction, Industrial Engineering

Honors & Awards (3)

Carol D. Soc Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award for Senior Faculty


UC Berkeley Campus Distinguished Teaching Award


Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching

2003, 1992, 1990 (Full-time MBA) 1990 (Evening & Weekend MBA)

Selected External Service & Affiliations (6)

  • Building Materials Holding Corporation Board Member
  • Corporate Design Foundation Advisory Board
  • Manufacturing Studies Board
  • National Research Council
  • Columbia University, Operations Management Advisory Board
  • Leaders for Manufacturing, MIT, Operating Committee Member

Positions Held (1)

At Haas since 1988

Project Scientist, Haas School of Business Senior Lecturer with Security of Employment, Haas School of Business Chief Learning Officer, College of Engineering, UC Berkeley Faculty Director, Management of Technology Program, UC Berkeley Visiting Lecturer, Leaders for Manufacturing Program, MIT Visiting Assistant Professor, Operations Management, MIT Director, Product Generation Change Management Team, Hewlett Packard Consultant, Operations Management Consulting Practice, Booz, Allen and Hamilton

Media Appearances (6)

The world is still in the grip of a major crisis. With the right investment, the United States has a clear opportunity to save millions of lives.

Business Insider  online


P.S. Professor Beckman, one of my rock star professors at Berkeley Haas, is now teaching a Section4 Sprint (short-form, intensive strategy courses). Her Innovation Strategy Sprint teaches you frameworks and strategies to systematically leverage innovation principles to create value, regardless of your area of expertise or the size of your firm — register here.

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Online classes: The new normal for US university students

BBC  online


Collaborative Innovation, an undergraduate class co-taught by Teaching Professor Sara L. Beckman, is featured in this video about how online learning has become the new normal at UC Berkeley.

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The Most Interesting New MBA Courses At B-Schools This Year

Poets & Quants  online


What a time to be in B-school. Professors at the top 25 full-time MBA programs in the United States have crafted a fascinating slate of new offerings for the fall, winter, and spring — 182 new courses in all, in marketing, finance, operations, analytics, entrepreneurship, and much more. The range of subjects and the promise of robust debate are striking, making it a fun exercise to peruse the course summaries and imagine how the school year — now in its opening weeks — will unfold.

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Dance and art, meet business: You’re more alike than you think

Berkley News  online


"Other sections of the four-credit course are taught by Sara Beckman, founder of the class and a senior lecturer at Haas School of Business; Sean San José, a lecturer in the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies; and Takming Chuang, a visiting lecturer in the Department of Art Practice..."

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How Does Language Influence Who Innovates?

HuffPost  online


"Learn early, learn often. Remember that the goal is to be constantly learning by doing. Learning happens when we try things and get feedback. Based on 20 years working with Silicon Valley innovators, University of California- Berkeley business school professor Sara Beckman likens the innovation process to learning. Innovators learn best when they try to do something they haven’t done before, get feedback on their work, and reflect on what they have learned..."

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Welcoming the New, Improving the Old

The New York Times  online


For decades, companies from Cisco Systems to Staples to Bank of America have worked to embed the basic techniques of Six Sigma, the business approach that relies on measurement and analysis to make operations as efficient as possible. More recently, in the last 5 to 10 years, they have been told they must master a new set of skills known as “design thinking.” Aiming to help companies innovate, design thinking starts with an intense focus on understanding real problems customers face in their day-to-day lives — often using techniques derived from ethnographers — and then entertains a range of possible solutions.

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Selected Papers & Publications (11)

Design Roadmapping in an Uncertain World: Implementing a Customer-Experience-Focused Strategy

California Management Review

Euiyoung Kim, Sara L. Beckman, Alice Agogino

Sept. 2018

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What Green Design Activities and Mindsets Drive Innovation and Sustainability in Student Teams?

21st International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 17

Jeremy Faludi, Alice Agogino, Sara Beckman, Alastair Iles

Aug. 2017

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What Alumni Value from New Product Development Education: A Longitudinal Study

Advances in Engineering Education

Cobb, Corie L.; Hey, Jonathan; Agogino, Alice M.; Beckman, Sara L.; Kim, Sohyeong


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Design Roadmapping: A Framework and Case Study on Planning Development of High-Tech Products in Silicon Valley

Journal of Mechanical Design

Euiyoung Kim, Jaewoo Chung, Sara Beckman and Alice M. Agogino

Aug. 2016

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Design practitioners' perspectives on methods for ideation and prototyping

Mudd Design Workshop IX

Agogino, Alice M.; Beckman, Sara L.; Castaños, Carmen; Kramer, Julia; Roschuni, Celeste; Yang Maria


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Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding Design Thinking (Accenture Award Winning)

California Management Review

Sara L Beckman, Michael Barry


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Designing Sustainable Solutions: Frameworks and Tools for Considering Sustainability Issues in New Product Development

The Handbook of Technology Management, 3 Volume Set, Hossein Bidgoli, Editor-in-Chief. John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Sara L Beckman, Nathan Shedroff


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Infrastructure Meets Business: Building New Bridges, Mending Old Ones

California Management Review

Nuno Gil, Sara L Beckman


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Framing Innovation: Negotiating Shared Frames During Early Design Phases

Journal of Design Research, Undersciences

Jonathan H.G. Hey, Caneel K. Joyce, Sara L Beckman


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Self-Reflection: Lessons Learned in a New Product Development Class

Journal of Mechanical Design

Sara L Beckman, Jonothan Hey, Alan Van Pelt and Alice Agogino


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Workplace Design: A New Managerial Imperative

California Management Review

Sara Beckman, Jeffrey Chan, and Peter Lawrence


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Teaching (4)

Collaborative Innovation

UGBA 190T Taught jointly with Theater and Dance Performance Studies and Art Practice

Applied Innovation

XMBA 290T and XMBA 296

Product Management Program

Berkeley Executive Education

Leading Innovative Change Program

Berkeley Executive Education