Design Thinking and Organizational Implementation

Application Workshop Design Thinking and Organizational Implementation on October 4 - 6, 2018

> Methods Target audienceKey benefitsKey topics Meet the staff

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

Markets move from the “technology push” to the market “pull”. Even the most traditional companies in the manufacturing industry establish innovation hubs to generate new business models and create a new customer experience. Mainly due to decreasing barriers to entry, the financial sector and many service industries see a new wave of entrepreneurs successfully entering their ecosystems, because they can react more flexibly to their clients’ expectations.

Meanwhile, recruiting the right talents, providing a pleasant and stimulating environment, and nourishing the ambitions of both new and old workforce become internal challenges, not only for human resource (HR) departments. Many representatives of this new generation do not develop a lifelong, emotional commitment to a single corporate employer. At the other end of the spectrum, an aging workforce has to cope with the requirements of life-long learning at the workplace. New technologies, especially those linked to digitalization and IT, are not perceived as an opportunity, but as a latent threat and stress factor.

While HPI Academy provides the high-level Design Thinking input for this three-day workshop, 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 focuses on sense-making and testing, including interaction with potential users and a joint networking event, which takes place at the ESMT Satellite Campus in Berlin-Schöneberg.

Day 3 is dedicated to strategies how implementation of new practices can be fostered and improved, and how an internal change processes can be triggered successfully. A particular emphasis lies on internal networking and appropriate communication strategies. The workshop ends with a peer coaching session, which will be the basis for individual action plans and continued exchange among participants.



The workshop is based on an experiential, hands-on approach, with group work, real-life interviews, prototyping and testing as core ingredients of the individual and collective learning process. In addition, its relatively homogeneous target audience allows for intense networking, sharing of experiences in a setting of like-minded people facing similar challenges, and peer coaching that will extend beyond the duration of the seminar.


Target audience

Managers and executives eager to learn and implement new processes and tools of customer centricity, both within their respective organizations as well as in contact with their external customers and users.


Key benefits

Participants learn principles of the 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 also enhance their ability to trigger changes in managerial practices of their firms, with practical advice how to establish networks of like-minded people and refine their communication skills to convince their peers across hierarchies.

Complemented by keynotes of external guest speakers, the program also enlarges the horizon of participants with 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
  • How to conduct interviews with customers and internal clients
  • Communication techniques and tools for implementing organizational change
  • Up-to-date insights how to build coalitions of like-minded peers in the organizational context



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

Dr. Steven Ney joined the HPI in July 2015, where he is since then 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 of environmental issues, particularly climate change, Steven Ney has developed an interest in analyzing the way societies deal with complex and uncertain policy challenges. Specifically, Steven Ney is interested in processes of institutional change and reform. Recently, Steven Ney has concentrated on social innovation and processes of transformation design, such as design thinking, as a vehicle of sustainable institutional change.

Steven Ney completed his doctorate in the policy sciences at the Department of Comparative Politics in the University of Bergen. Trained as a policy analyst at the University of London, Steven Ney has worked on a wide range of policy issues in a number of research institutes including the LOS Center in Bergen, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Comparative Research in the Social Sciences (ICCR) in Vienna and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Luxemburg. After spending four years as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Singapore Management University, Steven Ney became Assistant Professor for Policy Science and Social Entrepreneurship at Jacobs University, Bremen.


Bianca Schmitz

Bianca Schmitz is a program director and head of international executive education relationships at ESMT Berlin. Additionally, she leads the Hidden Champions Institute at ESMT with two other colleagues.

She is responsible for establishing new international cooperations with other business schools, institutions or networks, such as the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) or UNICON.

Her focus lies in agile innovation processes, especially of so-called Hidden Champions. She has been trained in Design Thinking by Hasso Plattner Institute and is a certified SCRUM Product Owner.

Bianca has cooperated with Hidden Champions in industries such as machine-building, automotive, construction, power tools, imaging, and retailing.

She studied Regional Sciences of Latin America at the University of Cologne and finished with a diploma in microeconomics. Her focus was on economics and 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 sections throughout the world.

Bianca’s international profile is supplemented by a two-year working 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.