Professional Track - Learn to Manage Complexity

The Professional Track is a program specifically designed for executives who want to use Design Thinking as a strategy and toolbox to manage complexity in change processes.

Participants train agile methods and develop their skills in the areas of TEAM LEADERSHIP, INNOVATION PROJECTS and STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION.

New: With additional Module "LEADING A REMOTE TEAM".

Relevance: Agility and managing complexity

In the context of dynamic complexity, the ability to react quickly to change and to learn continuously has become essential for the success of an organization. Decision-makers who want to further develop their knowledge, mindset and practical application skills in agile working methods will find in Strategic Design Thinking at the Hasso Plattner Institute a profound, easily accessible and practical discipline to manage complexity.

Overview of modules and program content

Strategic Design Thinking achieves targeted and successful change management by combining specific methods and principles: Team Collaboration, Innovation Processes and Strategy Implementation. In applying the nine principles of Strategic Design Thinking, participants use the tools and methods on a real business challenge of a startup partner. They then transfer the newly gained knowledge to their own company project work during the course.

MODULE I – Building a user-centered COLLABORATION CULTURE with the strategic Design Thinking principles of SPACE, DIVERSITY and EMPATHY

Content of the first module:
How can space be used as an innovation engine?
How are team dynamics of multidisciplinary teams navigated effectively?
How to research relevant user needs?

If the Module I can’t take place on campus because of COVID-19 reasons, it will be held remotely in an highly interactive workmode with individual team coaching.

New: Leading a Remote Team– Additional online Module

Content of the module:
How to energise your remote team with the best team building and warmup methods?
How to develop a concept to transfer your analogue meeting into the virtual space?
How to design the critical working sessions in a virtual Design Thinking project: gaining empathy, doing synthesis, building (digital) prototypes?

Please note, this is not a tutorial for online collaboration tools, even though tools like Zoom or Miro are going to be used. This module is optional and is offered complementary to Modules I - III.

MODULE II – Leading INNOVATION PROCESSES in uncertain contexts with the strategic Design Thinking principles of SYNTHESIS, PROTOTYPING and ITERATION

Content of the second module:
How does the synthesis of user data become a springboard for ideation?
How can quick prototyping accelerate the decision-making process?
How to speed up the learning process by iteration?

MODULE III – IMPLEMENTING change with the strategic Design Thinking principles of ANALOGY, STORYTELLING and SYSTEMS THINKING.

Content of the third module:
How can analogies be used for participation in change processes?
How to apply storytelling in strategic implementation?
How are the connections for change identified in the organizational system?


Learning model and structure

The curriculum is built on experience-based learning in interdisciplinary teams. Participants go through training sessions in short, intensive design sprints, which enable active and iterative learning. New knowledge is deepened and anchored in daily reflection rounds.

This Design Thinking training makes use of different learning modes, and thus enables long-term anchoring of what has been learned as cognitive, motivational and practical knowledge.

Each module is structured into these 3 training phases:

EXPERIENCE the most impactful Design Thinking principles in deep dive exercises.

APPLY Design Thinking methods and tools for working on a real business challenge based on the Design Thinking process.

TRANSFER acquired knowledge and skills to your own company project developed during the course.


Project work

During the program, participants work on two real projects.These can later serve as a basis to lead innovation teams in Design Thinking projects in the future:

  • The business challenge of a startup partner in which participants apply Design Thinking methods in their Design Thinking team on Day 2 of the progam on HPI campus.
  • The company project that participants carry out on Day 3 of the program on the HPI campus and in between the modules in their own company .

Company Project

In the Professional Track, participants apply their new knowledge and skills directly to the project that they brought to the course. This gives participants the opportunity to use their own project as a lighthouse project that immediately reflects the effect of agile working methods and the human-centered solution in their organization. The lighthouse project thus serves as a blueprint for further replication of Design Thinking projects.

Participants can choose the topic of their company project from three different areas of organizational value creation: portfolio development (products and services), internal infrastructure and processes, or relationships to partners and clients.

Duration and days of presence

The Professional Track is an intensive three-part Design Thinking program with 10 days of presence on the HPI campus. The time span of three months allows the necessary time investment to be integrated into the working schedule. During the course, one module takes place once a month. Participants continue working on their company project in their organization between each module. A time investment of 20% of regular working time is recommended for an optimal retention rate. Experienced Design Thinking coaches support off-campus time with one-on-one remote support sessions, which ensure direct application and successful transfer of learnings.

Find a detailled program syllabus of the three modules taking place here.


Participant profile

  • Executives in organizations who want to use strategic Design Thinking to lead change processes.
  • Innovation catalysts who want to grow their team leader skills in human-centered and agile project work.
  • Project managers in charge of strategic projects that they have to balance strategy and operations.
  • Lead managers in key positions, in areas such as R & D, sales, marketing, innovation, digital transformation, strategy, HR, production or design that see the limitations of silo-working in departments.
  • General knowledge of Design Thinking and an affinity towards human-centered design is sufficient to attend this course. The application of agile working processes and collaboration in diverse teams are a part of the real-world training that we will provide you.

Your takeaways as participant

  • You get an HPI certificate as “Strategic Design Thinking Project Teamleader” that documents your skills to lead multidisciplinary teams in any Design Thinking project.
  • You immediately multiply your Design Thinking knowledge, and your company project team benefits from your learnings.
  • Your company project serves as a blueprint for replication in your specific context.
  • You can create a real lighthouse project for the change-goals in your organization.
  • You receive comprehensive and exclusive working material including templates, inspirational inputs, method cardset, and program literature for long term integration into your daily business.
  • You get an automatic membership to the active executive alumni circle with access to research findings and exclusive alumni conferences.
  • In the integrated programs you get to know the most recent findings of the extensive HPI – Stanford Design Thinking Research Program.

Key information

  • Duration: 10 days of presence within the course of three months

       Note: The first Module might be taken into the virtual space.

  • Place:  D.Space, main building on HPI campus in Potsdam
  • Language: English 
  • Costs: EUR 10,000.  plus VAT
    includes participation, working material, 1 Design Thinking coach per max. 6 participants, catering and happy hour

Save your spot now and participate in the Professional Track Fall 2021 by registering here