Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation

Program by Stanford Center for Professional Development and HPI

Leading successfully through the digital transformation era:

The Stanford Center for Professional Development and the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) offer an intensive executive program that considers the three key transformational drivers: human needs, digital technology and business transformation management. This unique integrated program aims to transmit the knowledge, practice and the mindset of a NEW LEADERSHIP in times of change. It synergizes strategic Design Thinking and digital technology application with behind-the-scenes insights of the Silicon Valley eco-system.

The challenges of dynamic change

Change is the new constant in leadership of the 21st century. Never before in history have the opportunities of creating new business value been so easily reachable for organizations – and so elusive at the same time. Digital technology offers speed and scalability to drive successful innovation and adaptivity on the one hand – and represents one of the most important leadership challenges on the other. To navigate the dynamic complexity of a new era, leaders today need an approach that helps them with both: building up a holistic strategy and keeping the big picture in sight as well as walking the talk and using the right methods and tools to execute concrete operational steps.

In an organizational system, digital transformation is always also a cultural revolution that is not just located in your IT department – it reaches all parts of your organization which are interlinked in a complex value flow that has to be considered in the strategy:

  • your internal infrastructure
  • your relationships to partners and clients
  • your product & service portfolio

Change depends on change drivers: the human beings in and around an organization. Accordingly, successful digital transformation requires a human-driven strategy that focuses needs and motivations of employees, clients and partners. This is the fertile ground for an accelerating and amplifying impact of digital technology. The third force on the evolution journey from the present status quo to a future vision is a hands-on and risk-taking entrepreneurial mindset.

The program provides a unique, holistic training for the pioneers of change, grounded in years of extensive experience in education, research and practice in the fields of digital technology, human-centered innovation, Design Thinking and leadership. It follows a simple equation that is the foundation of the course curriculum:


Discover the logical and easily replicable step-by-step approach of the Digital Transformation Leadership Cycle for your transformation strategy:

Block 1: Develop your Desing Thinking competence by using the approach as a leadership strategy for human-centered value creation.

Block 2: Grow your digital competence and train your innovation skills for value creation with digital technology.

Block 3: Deepen your business transformation competence and get inspired by success strategies of the Silicon Valley community for business value creation.

Each of these areas is at the center of a 3–4 day face-to-face training block which are a combination of impulse lectures and practice slots. On-campus courses will be held at HPI in Potsdam, Germany and at Stanford University in California, USA, led by faculty and trainers of both institutions who are leading experts in their field. Online materials complement and deepen the unique learning experience.




The program is structured in seven steps that will represent the golden thread for the participants’ work. This will enable you to set up both a solid theoretical framework and tangible actions to create the foundation for repeatable and scalable transformation for your own organization. The seven value creation steps in your roadmap:

1. What is your purpose value in the context of digital transformation?

2. Which human values in and around the organization are strong levers of change?

3. What are the solutions that deliver practical (daily work) value of change for the human being in the stakeholder system?

4. Which digital technology value can become motor of change by amplifying and accelerating the impact of those solutions?

5. What solutions should be prioritized to fuel strategic value?

6. What elements should be anchored in the organizational system to scale business value?

7. Which leadership action will become symbol of your vision and the prototype, multiplier and symbol of your transformation culture?


Get to know and apply Design Thinking as a leadership strategy for human-centered value creation which helps you keep the focus on your most important stakeholders. Starting with the definition of your transformation purpose, you will discover and practice Design Thinking as a leadership strategy and explore how to discover the strongest lever for a culture of change.


3-day Design Thinking Leadership Workshop @ HPI School of Design Thinking, Potsdam (Germany) 

In small teams (six members maximum), you will use Design Thinking principles to reach the following curriculum goals:

  • Create your transformation purpose.
  • Bring to light human needs connected to the different areas of the value creation process and define your digital transformation challenge.
  • Develop, in a Design Thinking mode, solutions that have the power to give orientation and serve as a "compass" for further activities and to unleash cultural change.

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Grow your innovation skills by creating concrete prototypical solutions. Develop your knowledge for value creation with digital technology that can serve as a starting point or accelerator in transformation. In the second block, you will focus on the pragmatic and strategic value of digital transformation.

  • You will exploreand reflect how digital technology can magnify and scale the compass solutions that you created in block 1.
  • With your team, you will present your digital transformation solutions to a jury and will have the possibility for deeper discussion.
  • Day 3 is dedicated to the transfer to your own transformation topic. The result is your personal draft of your digital transformation roadmap.


3-day session: Startup Safari, Innovation Workshop and Transfer Exercise @ Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam (Germany)

HPI experts, startup founders and digital practitioners will provide you with knowledge about application fields and the potential of the digital tech fields of BIG DATA, SMARTER WORLD and KNOWLEDGE ENTERPRISE

  • In your teams, you will use the concrete cases and match digital technology principles with your compass solutions to craft human-centered digital compass solutions.
  • These results will be the content of your pitch presentation to the HPI faculty expert jury: their feedback will be followed by an informal and personal discussion round where you can deepen and broaden your knowledge about technology fields like big data, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence or application program interfaces (API).
  • The result of day 3 is your personal roadmap draft that will serve as your reflection and learning reference for block 3, in which you will experience the full potential of entrepreneurial business value creation.

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Get inspired by strategies of successful transformation in the Silicon Valley community to transfer these principles into your own context of business value creation. Finally, you will enrich your hands-on training and knowledge gathering experience with a full immersion into entrepreneurial mindset at Stanford University and Silicon Valley. You will leave with new knowledge, myriad examples, strategies and success principles as inspiration and foundation for creating business value with digital transformation. 


4-day session: Business Transformation Lectures, On-Site Visits at Silicon Valley Companies, Exercises and Reflections @ Stanford University, California (USA)

  • Stanford scientists, renowned book authors and leaders from innovative companies will share their insights and behind-the-scenes experiences.
  • Strategies and daily work culture of startups, venture capitalist firms and innovation labs will be on the program of your site-visit day.
  • Your journey will culminate with a personal leader’s transformation activity, a potent starting point and accelerator on your pathway to your transformation vision.

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