Beyond Brockhaus Thinking: With Design Thinking to a Networked Culture

Design Thinking is an innovation approach, which evolved through the past 12 years from a university program at Stanford and HPI Potsdam to a globally respected and universally applied set of methods and tools for supporting and driving change towards a networked culture in organizations. The course is an introduction to the core principles of Design Thinking, explains its cultural impact and inspires to actively use Design Thinking at the organizational level.

The course is valuable for decision makers, who want to get an idea about the strategic underpinnings of design thinking. They will learn the terminology and get a better understanding, why and how to use Design Thinking to make the transformation towards a networked organization.

The course is not a substitute for a real design thinking-workshop, which will give - at its best - the deep and diverse team experience in a creative environment to the participants. But it helps, to get a better understanding of the core concepts behind Design Thinking and supports the development of their transformational strategy.

Self-paced since June 18, 2019
Language: English
Advanced, Beginner

Course information


Design Thinking has gained its first popularity as a method-kit to further advance user-centric product development processes and has been extended to user-centered service design and the experience of new offerings. But more importantly, it has developed into a strategic approach of human-centered organizational transformation based on agile principles.

This course will introduce you to the core principles of Design Thinking beyond the process-level and will help you to shape your understanding of why and how to use Design Thinking at the organizational level. Furthermore, you will understand that Design Thinking is also consisting of (teamed) leadership and spatial change towards a networked organization.

This course is designed for individual work, understanding and reflection. However, as reflective practitioners we want to invite you to discuss and shape the strategic discourse about Design Thinking together with us.

Course characteristics:

  • Language: English
  • Starting from: May 8, 2019
  • Course end: June 11, 2019
  • Duration: 5 weeks (2 - 3 hours per week)

Target group:

  • Professionals, freelancers and consultants working in design, innovation, strategy, and business development
  • Middle and Senior Managers
  • Decision- and Change-Makers
  • Everybody who is interested in innovation, organizational change and transformation, lean and agile

Course requirements:

  • None. However, you will profit from prior experience with Design Thinking (starting from having taking part in a teaser-workshop up to being an experienced Design Thinking-practitioner) as this online learning course is targeted on reflection of practice.

Course Outline:

Module 1: Zooming Out - The Outer Strategic Picture In week 1 we would like to introduce to you the strategic vision that goes beyond the innovative power of an individual (From IQ to WeQ) and to further extend this to an organizational level.

Module 2: Collaborative Space The most important component of making change visible in an organization is to change the material layer of organizational culture as tangible artifacts above rituals/behaviors and values/assumptions. In week 2 we want to discuss with you the visible strategic frame of change.

Module 3: Creative Power of Teams Diverse teams build on a broad array of functional roles is considered key to team building in innovative environments. In week 3 we want to tap into diversity beyond this criteria and address issues around personality and areas of expertise. We will also discuss the concepts of team(ed) leadership and leading teams-of-teams in Design Thinking.

Module 4: Iterative Process for Co-Innovation Introducing and implementing Design Thinking is quite often limited to the process-level and is more often used as a creative means to produce ideas. We would like challenge this perspective by introducing our model of co-innovating developed in our academic programs. In week 4 we will discuss the iterations build on gaining inspirations and insights, co-creating within an innovation network and implementing ideas into new business designs.

Module 5: Zooming In - The Inner Strategic Picture In week 5 we want to zoom in with our participants and share & develop key strategic steps into the future of a networked organization build around Design Thinking principles.

Recap & Reflect: “Everything is a prototype.” At the end of the course we want to discuss with you your take-aways in order to shape the strategic discourse about Design Thinking for the future.

Reflective Work:

The course will be accompanied by some practical tasks to reflect on the introduced concepts and approaches. We are inviting you to actively discuss your experiences and thoughts with the community and - of course - us.

Final Note(s):

  • "Strategizing includes also knowing what not to do." Thus, course is NOT a task-based approach to build your skills within the Design Thinking-process by focusing on single steps by introducing tools and instruments such as how to conduct interviews, how to ideate or how to make your ideas tangible. It is not a practical introduction to Design Thinking. If you are interested in these practical tips and tricks as hands-on advice on HOW to conduct design thinking-projects starting with design-led research with qualitative interviews, synthesize your findings into ideation and/or how to build low-resolution prototypes we would like to refer your to the other practical MOOC’s on this platform. Instead this online course will focus according to Sinek’s golden circle on the strategic level of WHY and WHAT design thinking principles can be used for.
  • “Approach everything with an open mind.” is our credo for what we do in Design Thinking in general and specifically in this online course: We want to create an open forum of exchange of thoughts, opinions, questions and reflections with regard to the strategic discourse about Design Thinking principles.

Course contents

  • General Information:

    Information about the Online Learning Course
  • Week 1 - Zooming Out:

    The Outer Strategic Picture
  • Week 2 - Collaborative Space

  • Week 3 - Creative Power of Teams

  • Week 4 - Iterative Process for Co-Innovation

  • Week 5 - Zooming In:

    The Inner Strategic Picture
  • Wrap-Up, Feedback & Feedforward:

    Summary of questions, learnings & findings; Feedback about Online Learning Course; Potential next steps
  • Announcement Videos

  • Global Design Thinking Survey:

    Thank you very much for taking part in our worldwide survey about Design Thinking practice in organizations. It will take approx 10 minutes to fill in the survey. We already run a more comprehensive survey last year and focus on some specific questions in this short version. All data will solely be used for research purposes, handled anonymously, and will not be transferred to third parties. Your answers will feed into our global survey on Design Thinking practices in organizations, which will be published around summer this year! We will keep you updated so you can read the study as one of the first!

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The course is free. Just register for an account on openHPI and take the course!
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Course End
Jun 18, 2019
Course Start
May 08, 2019


This course was rated with 5.0 stars in average from 2 votes.

Certificate Requirements

  • Gain a Confirmation of Participation by completing at least 50% of the course material.

Find out more in the certificate guidelines.

This course is offered by

Dr. Claudia Nicolai

Dr. Claudia Nicolai is the co-director and academic director of the HPI School of Design Thinking in Potsdam/Germany. Together with her team she designs the academic programs for participants, the design thinking-coaches programs, develops innovation projects with partner institutions (companies, non-profit-organizations and research institutions) and researches on business design, innovative workplaces, leadership and teamwork. Claudia is also responsible for cooperations with international academic institutions in Design Thinking and related fields. She has co-designed the d-school genovasi in Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia and the HPI D-school at the University of Cape Town in South Africa as well as the international biothinking-program at the Charité. Currently she is involved in developing design thinking institutions in Middle and Latin America (Mexico and Chile). She has taught as a guest professor/assistant professor at the University of Witten/Herdecke, RWTH Aachen, University of Arts/Berlin, openlab/Stockholm, and Elisava School of Design/Barcelona. Besides teaching and learning she heads Design Thinking-research at the HPI D-School with 3 funded research projects in the fields of innovation networks, future of work and team leadership. She is also eager to enable to make an impact on future education, change-making and entrepreneurship by closely collaborating with primary education institutions as well as international leadership programs (e.g. Montessori School, Young Global Leadership Program of Melton Foundation). She serves as a mentor of the startupbootcamp, Impact Hub and several startups. Claudia studied Business Administration, Economics, and Social Science and received her Ph.D. in Strategic Innovation. She has gained experience as a founder of her own companies as well as working as a strategy consultant and business manager for fast-moving consumer goods. She loves to encourage participants and professionals to become innovators, entrepreneurs and change-makers.

Prof. Ulrich Weinberg

Since 2007 Director of the School of Design Thinking at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Potsdam. Studied Arts, Design, Art History and Philosophy in Munich and Berlin.
1980-1986 active in TV design in public and private production houses. Since 1986, specialized in 3D computer animation (among others with mental images, ART + COM) in artistic, technical and scientific projects for companies like ARD, BMW, Daimler Benz, Siemens, Schering, Telekom, ZDF. Founder of the company TERRATOOLS and CYPARADE with focus on 3D animation, simulation, cross-media projects and computer games. Since 1994 Professor of Computer Animation at the Film University Babelsberg. For four years the Vice President for Research, Development and International Relations. Since 2004 Visiting Professor at the Communication University of China CUC in Beijing and there since 2014 Honorary Director of the Design Thinking Innovation Center. 2014 to 2018 honorary board member of the German Society for Quality DGQ e.V., board member of TEDx Berlin and, since 2015 co-founder of WeQ-Foundation and its honorary chairman. Since 2017 president of the Global Design Thinking Alliance GDTA. Co-author of several books, author of "Network Thinking – Beyond Brockhaus Thinking".