Certification Program for Design Thinking Coaches

Design Thinking has become an increasingly popular method for crafting creative solutions to complex problems in businesses and organizations across the globe. A key advantage of the methods and mind-sets of Design Thinking is that they are relevant to a very wide range of fields, issues and problems. At the same time, however, such a range of possibilities creates thorny challenges for innovation teams and the people that train them.

The Certification Program for Design Thinking Coaches (“Certification Program” for short) responds to these challenges by providing the training that enables individuals to support innovation teams and to teach the methods and mind-sets of Design Thinking. Participants in the Certification program will profit from the unique institutional setting of the Hasso Plattner Institute. Here, they will be able to access the wealth of experience accrued in years of educating students and executives in Design Thinking.

What is more, participants of the program join our growing global alumni network of certified Design Thinking coaches. As a key member of the Global Design Thinking Association, the HPI also sets global standards in the training of Design Thinking coaches through this program.

The Certification Program aims to


  • Equip individuals with the capabilities to recognize and help realize the full potential of innovation teams;
  • Enable individuals to apply and teach the methods and mind-sets of Design Thinking in different organizational contexts;
  • Inspire individuals to discover their own coaching style and hone their coaching skills.


How Does the Certification Program Do all This?


First and foremost, the Certification Program is a learning journey. Like all journeys, this program is about discovering and exploring new and exciting places. It is about experiencing new ways of seeing the world, new ways of thinking and, most importantly, new ways of doing things. Yet, like any expedition, these experiences and lessons will have a sustained effect only if they trigger learnings at the individual level. Ultimately, then, the Certification Program is about discovering the type of coach you are and how you can best apply your unique skills and talents to the organizational settings in which you operate.


For us, the key to excellent Design Thinking coaching is keen judgement. This is why the training and teaching in the Certification Program is geared towards engendering, fostering and refining judgement in trainee coaches. This entails the following:


  • The Certification Program teaches individuals to coach Design Thinking projects holistically by integrating innovation teams, the Design Thinking process and creative innovation spaces.
  • The Certification Program encourages and supports trainees in building, developing and refining their own set of Design Thinking methods and tools.
  • The Certification Program provides opportunities for trainee coaches to apply their capabilities and skills in a wide range of different organizational settings. These range from coaching innovation teams in academic programs to supporting teams of executive innovators in professional settings.
  • The Certification Program enables trainee coaches to learn from highly experienced Design Thinking Coaches through observation and engagement.

Training in Design Thinking Team Facilitation and Teaching


The Certification Program is an integrated program for acquiring the skills and capabilities to both support Design Thinking teams as well as effectively teach the methods and mindsets of Design Thinking. Briefly, the program consists of three interrelated elements: training, practice and transfer.



The core of the training element encompasses two three-day workshops called the Train-the-Trainer Basic Workshop and the Train-the-Trainer Advanced Workshop. The Train-the-Trainer Basic Workshop equips trainee coaches with the elementary tools for supporting and leading Design Thinking innovation teams. However, over and above providing the basic methods and tools of coaching, the workshop sets trainee coaches on the path towards developing the capacity for judgement in team coaching situations. That is, while the workshop will teach trainee coaches basic methods, the emphasis is on how and when to deploy these methods to the best effect. The Train-the-Trainer Advanced Workshop focuses on project and workshop design. Here, trainee coaches will learn to set up and adapt Design Thinking processes for different types of audiences, occasions and contexts. Again, the emphasis here will be on fostering and developing judgement for the design and deployment of Design Thinking workshops.


Regular webinars strengthen the more practical learnings from the Train-the-Trainer Workshops. These webinars enable trainee coaches to focus on and explore conceptual aspects of the methods and mindsets of Design Thinking. While the Train-the-Trainer Workshops provide the basic equipment for supporting teams and designing workshops, the webinars provide the conceptual backdrop to these activities.



The 12 days of coaching practice enable trainee coaches to discover and hone their coaching skills. During this time, the senior Design Thinking coaches of the Certification Program support trainee coaches in discovering and developing their own coaching styles. By applying their basic toolbox to a wide range of coaching situations, trainee coaches not only explore own their coaching styles but learn to adapt methods to suit different organizational contexts.


In general, the Certification Program offers three very different types of practice experiences in very different organizational contexts. First, trainee coaches can practice their skills by shadowing experienced Design Thinking coaches in the unique academic program of the HPI School of Design Thinking. Here, the Certification Program helps trainees learn through close observation of senior Design Thinking coaches. This is also where trainees develop an understanding of long-term Design Thinking formats. Second, trainee coaches have the opportunity to participate in workshops that the HPI-Academy offers for professionals and executives. These workshops tend to be shorter formats of 2-3 days and offer trainee coaches a glimpse of coaching teams of professionals. Again, trainee coaches will pair up with experienced coaches from the HPI-Academy. Last, the Certification Program also provides trainees with the opportunity to prepare and deliver entire workshops. Here, teams of trainee coaches – usually working in coaching pairs – create a Design Thinking workshop experience from beginning to end. Of course, senior Design Thinking coaches of the Certification Program are at hand not only to support trainees but also to provide detailed feedback. Based on these elements, the Certification Program seeks to create a unique learning journey that best suits the needs of each individual trainee coach.



Throughout the learning journey, the Certification Program will provide participants with opportunities to reflect on their learning experiences and transfer them to their everyday working contexts. The aim here is to encourage trainee coaches to explore and exchange the knowledge and experiences they have acquired on their learning journey. The Certification Program offers a range of different transfer modules, some of which are mandatory, others that repeat periodically and are also available after the completion of the program.


Master Classes: The elective element of the Certification Program consists of a series of thematic workshops. In order to qualify for the certification, trainee coaches need to attend at least one of the Master Classes. Each workshop focuses on either a particular method or a particular application of Design Thinking to a field or issue area. The instructors for the Master Classes are recruited from the Design Thinking coaching community at large. What is more, these Master Classes are also open to the Design Thinking community as a whole. Therefore, apart from the substantive benefits of attending the Master Classes, trainee coaches will also connect to and become a part of the growing global network of Design Thinking coaches.


Reflection paper: Actively reflecting on something you have learned is an important part of individual growth. At the end of the program, participants will be asked to systematically reflect on a particular issue and write a short reflection paper describing their learnings.


Transfer Lounges: The transfer lounge is a co-creation format. It helps trainee coaches answer the question of how to best transfer and adapt the experiences from the learning journey to any specific organizational environment.


Virtual Exchange Experiences (VEE): The VEE’s offer opportunities to listen to, think about and comment on Design Thinking coaching stories from your peers in the Certification Program. The VEE takes place via VoIP.



For whom is the program?

The program is primarily targeted at experienced Design Thinkers. This may include:

  • professionals who practice Design Thinking and who want to take responsibility for teaching and leading Design Thinking mindsets and methods;
  • educators, trainers and coaches who are looking to expand their teaching portfolio;
  • consultants and strategists in the public, private, and civic sectors who aim to bring about sustained innovation culture in their organization.

Further information on the format can be found here.