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Cultivating an innovation-driven mindset through Design Thinking


Stigliani I.

Course director


Innovation has become increasingly important in the fast-paced and ever-changing world in which businesses operate. At its core, innovation is about seeing the world not as it is, but as it could be, and thus, requires the ability to explore complex problems and to turn them into new opportunities through imagination.

Design Thinking provides a human-centred approach to solving these complex & ambiguous problems (so-called 'wicked problems') through an innovation-driven mindset. This mindset can help unlock the hidden value in existing products, services & technologies and develop new buiness models, redesign complex systems and find new solutions for societal issues. Moreover, this mindset represents the next competitive advantage for professionals inside organizations.

As such, Design Thinking offers a powerful way to unleash the creative potential of employees, managers & leaders in organisations and to prepare them for current and future business challenges.
This course will help to develop innovative thinking skills as well as a design thinking mindset conducive to innovation.

By the end, students will:

  • Develop an innovation-driven mindset
  • Know how to think more expansively, creatively & effectively through all phases of an innovation project and how to apply these innovative thinking skills to solve problems in relevant business situations
  • Be able to user needs, collect appropriate data, generate ideas, create sound concepts and develop a prototype that allows for meaningful feedback in a real-world environment
  • Translate broadly defined opportunities into actionable innovation possibilities & recommendations for client organisations
  • Design desirable, viable & feasible business solutions.


Knowledge Objectives
The course will introduce you to Design Thinking and its main characteristics and it will guide you through the disciplined process behind it in a step-by-step fashion. Design methodologies, innovation tools & cognitive frameworks for problem-solving will be critically discussed and practically applied.

Skill Objectives
The course will help you develop innovative thinking and problem-solving skills, especially when facing complex and systemic problems. These include the ability to gain deep insights about users (the core of Design Thinking), to define and reframe problems and to generate solutions or alternative approaches that are more effective than those that already exist. Furthermore, you will develop a strong ability to clearly articulate ideas & concepts visually as well as verbally, a mindset that embraces uncertainty and seeks new opportunities by exploration and experimentation, as well as a an understanding of how to perform effectively as individuals, within a team & within an organisation.

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

The course takes the view that Design Thinking can be learned through repeated practice. As a consequence, the course will be based on interactive sessions combining case discussion, independent fieldwork and in-class exercises to help you familiarise with the fundamental concepts & tools of Design Thinking and apply these tools to a concrete business challenge.

The module has no textbook but relies on a selection of articles outlining some fundamental ideas in Design Thinking, as well as case studies and examples. Reading the readings in advance is highly recommended as it will help students follow the course.

Brown T. (2008) Design thinking, Harvard Business Review, June Issue
Ignatius A. (2015) How Indra Noovi Turned Design Thinking into Strategy. Harvard Business Review, September 2015
Read Griffin  A. et al. (2012). How Serial Innovators Find The Best Problems To Solve. FastCompany, June issue
Madsbjerg C & Rasmussen M B (2014) An Anthropologist Walks into a Bar, Harvard Business Review, March issue
Wittes Schlack J. (2015) Use your customers as ethnographers. Harvard Business Review, August issue
Burkus D. (2015) 3 ways leaders accidentally undermine their teams‘ creativity. Harvard Business Review, July issue

Examination information

Attendance is highly encouraged and active participation to the team project is expected due to the highly participatory and hands-on nature of the course.
Evaluation procedures & grading criteria 
•     Course evaluation is pass/fail.
•     Individual project participation 30%
•     Final team presentation 50%
•     Individual reflective essay 20%
•     Detailed instructions will be provided during the course.
•     Peer evaluation will be activated upon request.