Design Thinking and Organizational Implementation

Design Thinking and Organizational Implementation on April 8-10, 2019

> Methods Target audienceKey benefitsKey topics Meet the staff

The business world of the 21st century is experiencing a dramatic shift. Reinforced by digitalization and a globalized competitive environment, companies have become aware of the necessity to better understand their customers and build lasting ties with them.

Markets are moving from the “technology push” to the “market pull”. Even the most traditional companies in the manufacturing industry have established innovation hubs to explore new business models and create customer journeys. With fewer barriers to entry, a new generation of entrepreneurs successfully disrupts the ecosystems of many industries by reacting more flexibly to their clients’ expectations. Design Thinking is
one of the world‘s most popular methods of establishing a dynamic, customer-focused and goal-oriented innovation culture within the organization – for start-ups, SMEs and large corporations alike. With the methods of the Design Thinking approach, ideas can be improved within the entire corporate value chain, from internal process optimization and digitalization to customer ontact in both the B2B and B2C areas.

However, even the most promising innovations often fail due to internal organizational resistance. Successful implementation requires a strategy that takes organizational complexity and power relations into account, a careful analysis of key stakeholders and their interests, as well as communication skills.
This workshop addresses these two challenges: innovation and its implementation within the organization. For the first time, HPI Academy and ESMT Berlin, two leading players in Germany’s executive education market, have united to combine their expertise in this hands-on workshop. While HPI Academy provides the high-level Design Thinking input for this three-day program, ESMT Berlin contributes its expertise in implementation and organizational change.

The workshop starts at the HPI Academy in Potsdam-Griebnitzsee, where participants get acquainted with the mindset of customer centricity and methods of Design Thinking. Hands-on user research is undertaken, and participants practically apply Design Thinking techniques on internal and external challenges.

Day 2 of the workshop takes place at the ESMT Berlin Campus and focuses on sense-making and testing, including interaction with potential users and a joint networking event in the evening.

Day 3 is dedicated to strategies on how the implementation of new practices can be fostered and improved, and how an internal change process can be successfully initiated. A particular emphasis is placed on internal networking and appropriate communication strategies.



The workshop is based on an experiential, hands-on approach. Here, group work, real-life interviews, prototyping, and testing are core ingredients of the individual and collective learning process. In addition, the highly interactive design allows for intense networking and sharing of experiences in a setting of like-minded people facing similar challenges.


Target audience

Managers and executives eager to learn and implement new processes and tools of customer-centricity, both within their organizations as well as when they are in contact with their external customers and users of their products and services.


Key benefits

Participants will learn the principles of Design Thinking and familiarize themselves with the major steps of this process: understanding the needs of internal and external customers and gaining empathy for them, conducting interviews, implementing creativity methods, as well as prototyping and testing.
Participants will enhance their ability to trigger changes in the managerial practices of their firms. They will also receive practical advice on how to establish networks of like-minded people and refine their communication skills to convince their peers across hierarchies.
Complemented by a keynote from an external guest speaker, the program also expands the horizon of participants offering up-to-date insights within the field of innovation and customer-centricity.

Topics include

  • The changing landscape of innovation
  • Applying Design Thinking methods in an internal or external challenge
  • Conducting interviews with customers and stakeholders
  • Communication techniques and tools for implementing organizational change
  • Up-to-date insights on how to build coalitions of like-minded peers in the organizational context
  • Gaining insights from users of products and services



Meeting the teaching staff

Urs Müller

Urs' focus in research and teaching is in the domain of Business ethics. Sometimes he also moves into the areas of Strategy and Change Management. He truly enjoys the opportunity and privilege to regularly discuss with executives the dilemmas that they really face in their daily life.

Urs joined ESMT Berlin in September 2005 where he currently is a lecturer and serves as the head of the practice group "Consumer Goods and Retail".

After his studies of Philosophy, German Literature and Art History at the University of Goettingen (Germany) and at the Université de Fribourg (Switzerland), Urs taught at the University of Goettingen, at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun (Poland) and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U.S.A.).

During and after working on his PhD at theUniversity of Goettingen, Urs worked as management consultant for A.T. Kearney. Where he served different international clients.

Urs directs and teaches in various different open and customized executive education programs for customers such as Axel Springer, British American Tobacco, Coca-Cola, Commerzbank, Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Bank, EnBW, Google, Johnson&Johnson, Lufthansa, McDonald's, and METRO and Symrise. In addition to that he teaches in the MBA and EMBA programs of ESMT and at the Porto Business School (Portugal).

Urs is a best-selling and award winning case author and serves as visiting tutor on writing and teaching with case studies for "The Case Centre".

His work has been featured or quoted in several leading German and international media such as Al Jazeera, BBC, Bild, Deutsche Welle, Financial Times, Handelsblatt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Times, or The Wall Street Journal.


Steven Ney

Steven Ney joined the HPI in July 2015. Since then he has been responsible for developing new teaching formats for Design Thinking as well as inquiring into the impact of Design Thinking on large organizations. Starting as a researcher on environmental issues, he has developed an interest in analyzing the way societies deal with complex and uncertain policy challenges. Recently, Steven has concentrated on social innovation and processes of transformation design, such as Design Thinking, as vehicles for sustainable institutional change. Steven completed his doctorate in policy sciences in the Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen, spent four years as an assistant professor of political science at Singapore Management University, and was an assistant professor for policy science and social entrepreneurship at Jacobs University, Bremen.


Bianca Schmitz

Bianca Schmitz is a co-director of the Hidden Champions Institute (HCI) and a program director at ESMT Berlin. She is responsible for establishing new international alliances with other business schools, institutions and networks, such as the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM). Her focus lies on agile innovation processes, especially of so-called hidden champions. She studied Regional Sciences of Latin America at the University of Cologne and finished with a diploma. Her focus was on economics and the Spanish language. Bianca worked for three years at the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS), a non-profit organization based in Cologne, Germany, with branches throughout the world. Bianca’s international profile is supplemented by two-years of work experience in Spain.


Christina Stansell

Christina Stansell is a design thinker with a passion for empowering people as innovators, connectors, and leaders. As a program manager at the HPI Academy as well as a coach at the HPI D-School, Christina designs, leads, and coaches programs that bring the method and mindset of Design Thinking into real world projects. In addition to teaching Design Thinking, she has served as an adjunct lecturer in personal development at various universities in Germany in collaboration with the consultancy MayCoach & Co. Prior to this, Christina spent nearly a decade in the international development field at the Institute of International Education, specializing in capacity-building and leadership development programs for organizations around the world. Christina holds a BA in International Relations from Stanford University and an MBA with honors from ESMT.


Jens Weinmann

Dr. Jens Weinmann is Program Director at ESMT Berlin. He runs ESMT’s open enrollment program “Innovation as a corporate model”. He is the Chairmain of the Judging Committee at the Product Innovation Awards of European Utility Week, and a mentor at Startup Bootcamp Berlin, an accelerator focusing on innovations in energy and transport.

Jens Weinmann's research focuses on the analysis of strategic decision-making in corporations with respect to innovation, regulation, and competition policy, with a special interest in energy and transport. Together with his colleague Christoph Burger, he published the book “The decentralized energy revolution – business strategies for a new paradigm” at Palgrave-Macmillan, and regularly releases editions of the “ESMT Innovation Index – electricity supply industry”.

He graduated in energy engineering (Dipl.-Ing.) at the Technical University Berlin and received his PhD in Decision Sciences from London Business School. His academic experience includes fellowships at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and the Florence School of Regulation, European University Institute. He has been trained in Design Thinking by Hasso-Plattner-Institute and is a certified SCRUM Master.