Global Design Thinking Week

Global Design Thinking Weeks

The Global Design Thinking Workshop (GDTW) is the introductory Design Thinking study program newly designed by the HPI School of Design Thinking. This Introductory program offers students a first-hand experience of Design Thinking as a human-centered approach to solve complex innovation problems with a creative mindset in diverse teams.


This life-centered approach is combined with the perspective of technological feasibility (how can ideas be technically-implemented or how can technology ignite the innovation process?), and business viability (how can we transform ideas into new business design?).

The program consists of five different workshops that offer deep dives into the most important aspects of Design Thinking.


What are the topics of the GDTW program?

The GDTW program offers five different workshops with a specific topic focus. In each workshop we will provide the participants with a complete run-through of the iterative Design Thinking process. We will frame theses action-based activities with reflective parts on a specific topic. Our learning approach builds on problem-based and experiential learning. We implement this as a project-based course, in which participants collaborate in each workshop with a project partner organization (NPOs and NGOs, large enterprises, young start-ups, social organizations, or research institutes and universities).


Teamed Leadership (March 2021)

This GDTW workshop focuses on team work and team dynamics of diverse and cross-functional teams. The diverse backgrounds of team members are an important factor for high-performing teams. The teams will work on a Design Thinking challenge related to this topic and at the same time we will dive into the questions of how to analyze, assess and enhance your individual and your team’s potential with regard to skills, team roles & communication, and leadership.

The Teamed Leadership Workshop will take place in a "blended" format and will last 50-60 hours. This means that all teamwork will take place in virtual space, but participants will also conduct "on-site observations". For example, you can interview people you know or go out on the street and observe what is happening there. For the virtual teamwork we use the digital tools Miro, openHPI and Zoom. That means you can participate in the workshop no matter where you are in March 2021.

The obligatory event dates are:

  • Monday/Tuesday 8./9.3.2021: 9.30 - 15.30 CET

  • Monday/Tuesday 15./16.3.2021: 9.30 - 15.30 CET

  • Monday 22.3.2021: 9.30 - 15.30 CET 

  • Tuesday 23.3.2021: 9.30 - 16.30 CET

We also expect flexible teamwork between and after the program days, as follows:

  • 10. - 14.3.2021: 5-7 hours (flexible) for Design-Led Research

  • 17. - 21.3.2021: 5-7 hours (flexible) for prototyping and testing

  • 24. - 31.3.2021: 10-15 hours (flexible) for the creation of your project documentation

The project documentation is due to be submitted on March 31st, 2021.

Further information about the program offer can be found here on the offical course-site of the HPI (in German).

And here you can download our course offer document (in English).


Human-Centered Design and Strategic Futures (September 2021)

This GDTW workshop combines the nearby-future perspective of human-centered design with the long-term-future perspective of strategic innovation. In Design Thinking we are not only looking for the next quick-win with a new product, we also want to create the future of an organization. When designing new solutions for these (digital) transformation processes, we have to incorporate both perspectives: How do customers imagine the nearby future? How do we envision future scenarios? Our focus here is in combining both approaches when we are creating innovative ideas because this enables us to shape our strategic future.


From Inspiration to Ideas (2022)

This GDTW workshop focuses on the first stages of the Design Thinking process, the so-called creative reframing where we aim to gain a better understanding of a given problem context by design-led research and inspirations from other sources. We are focusing on empathy as a key principle: to better understand users’ in their context and to explore their (future) latent needs, desires and wishes. Potential fields of opportunity are identified and described from a human-centered perspective. Additionally, the teams are developing and building new ideas and solutions through empathy prototyping.


Prototyping as a Mindset: Bring Ideas to Life (2022)

This GDTW workshop focuses on the later stages of the Design Thinking process and highlights the importance of experimentation and prototyping as a key principle. The starting point of this workshop week is promising fields of opportunity. The teams will develop and design ideas by making use of the two Design Thinking sprints focusing on prototyping in order to create new solutions. The focus here is on the "design doing": we aim to design a suitable solution ready to market in the context of the worlds of users.


Designing for Global Impact (2022)

This Global Design Thinking Course focuses on framing innovations in a sustainable fashion. Human-centered solutions will fail short on implementation if they don’t incorporate finding new answers to the question of how to make a change on the systems-level. Here, we frame our Design Thinking approach with the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). The teams will design solutions for a global problem and will focus on how a solution can be translated to different local contexts to make an impact.


What makes the GDTW program global?

The program team:

We are running the GDTW program with our international community of Design Thinking coaches and we are regularly teaming up with international partner universities and institutions from our global network. Students will have the opportunity to learn from experiences with our colleagues from the other d-schools in the USA (Stanford University), South Africa (University of Cape Town), Malaysia ( Malaysia), Sweden (openlab), Egypt (American University of Cairo), and China (CUC Beijing) and how others use Design Thinking in practice.

The participants:

Besides students from the HPI, we are particularly inviting international participants to apply for these workshops to form multidisciplinary teams and to work together in international teams with a project partner on a real design challenge.


Program structure and application requirements

We run these 5 workshops regularly and we are currently offering 3 GDTWs per year. You have to apply for each GDTW workshop separately.

You are invited to participate in more than GDTW workshop. If you are interested in more than one topic/focus, you can apply for several GDTWs. There is no fixed sequential order of the GDTW workshops.

Students and recent graduates from all disciplines and universities are invited to apply for the GDTW workshops. The participation fee is 200 Euro.

HPI students can sign up directly through the HPI Studienreferat. Participation is free of charge for HPI students.


Application for the Global Design Thinking Weeks

Applications for the Global Design Thinking Workshop "Human-Centered Design and Strategic Futures" are expected to open at the end of May 2021.


Interested in becoming a project partner?

For each of our GDTW workshops we are working together with a partner organization. We have for example been partnering with the Federal Association for Skilled Crafts (Zentralverband des Handwerks), Deutsche Bahn, ING Diba, Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (BDI) and Interhyp to develop innovations, ideas and solutions. Please contact us, if you are interested in project partnership.

More Information

Example documentation


Elisabeth Höpner

HPI School of Design Thinking
Program Coordinator

Phone: +49 -331-5509-507

E-Mail an HPI D-School Office