Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI
Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI



15 years of Design Thinking at HPI

15 years of Design Thinking at HPI - this was celebrated from September 15th to 16th with a large hybrid Design Thinking Impact Conference. The two-day conference focused on the many different aspects and applications of Design Thinking in different areas of society and culture, but also on future development and dissemination.

The innovation approach Design Thinking has long been established in the field of science and economy, yet in Germany and Europe it is only 15 years young. Its success story started in 2007 with the founding of the HPI School of Design Thinking in Potsdam. At the beginning of the conference, Dr. Stephanie Ullrich from the Hasso Plattner Foundation described how Hasso Plattner founded the HPI School of Design Thinking in Potsdam,(D-School) , based on the model of the Stanford d.school. Very quickly, under the direction of Professor Ulrich Weinberg, this developed into Europe's leading education and research hub in this field. More than 3,000 students have since been able to develop innovative solutions to problems using the innovation approach at HPI, and the HPI Academy, a provider of further education, has trained more than 10,000 professionals during this period. 

In inspiring keynote presentations, panel discussions and numerous interactive workshops, everything revolved around Design Thinking. For two days leading experts explained and discussed how the new mindset can change the way we work together as well as hierarchies in companies from different industries and increase innovative strength. Why is it that working in interdisciplinary teams leads to better results, promotes entrepreneurial spirit and inspires company start-ups? Or how can Design Thinking help to solve major social problems or blockages? All of these topics were discussed using examples, such as how the digitization of the healthcare system in Germany could be advanced more quickly.

HPI and its IT students have benefited from Design Thinking in many ways, said HPI CEO Professor Christoph Meinel. Instead of focusing only on technical aspects in software development, for example, the needs of future users played a central role in the development process right from the start. With Design Thinking, software development has clearly improved. HPI CFO Dr. Marcus Kölling also emphasized the importance of Design Thinking with regard to urgently needed transformation in many areas in Europe. Design Thinking could be a key driver for faster transformation in particular in the field of education and schools he said.

Dr. Claudia Nicolai, academic director of the D-School, explained how much the Design Thinking approach has already evolved over the past 15 years, using examples from the  economy. While the approach was originally used primarily in the field of economy to develop innovative products and services, it is now open to all other disciplines, she said. ”We need a general mindshift to change", she added. This also applies internationally, said the head of the D-School, Professor Ulrich Weinberg. At the 10th anniversary five years ago the Global Design Thinking Alliance (GDTA) was founded with a number of partner institutions. The growing international network of D-Schools that teach, do research and develop Design Thinking and the ever-expanding Design Thinking community are further proof of the important impact that Design Thinking has worldwide, he added.

Image gallery: Design Thinking ImpAct Conference

Photos: HPI/Jana Legler