Global Design Thinking Workshop: The benefit Design Thinking can bring to blockchain projects

From 8-31st March, the HPI School of Design Thinking facilitated the Global Design Thinking Workshop “Teamed Leadership” in cooperation with a global team of coaches. Together with our project partners Volksbank Mittweida and its subsidiary Teleskopeffekt six international student teams worked on a design challenge about marketing a new partnership built on special blockchain-Design Thinking programs and at the same time learned about team development.


GDTW Teamed Leadership


Blockchain technology has the potential to form the basis for new and disruptive digital value streams. There are numerous possible application fields for this technology including verifiable digital certificates, financial products or new forms of legal and business design, e.g., for the sharing economy, logistics and supply chain management.

Even though many companies are now aware of the potential of blockchain technology, there is still a lack of a clear idea of how they can benefit from blockchain in collaboration with other companies and institutions.

At the Global Design Thinking Workshop, 32 participants from around the world explored this issue with an intense deep dive into a complex design challenge: “Create new ways of communicating to companies in order to raise their awareness and interest in participating in new program offers build on the combination of blockchain and design thinking to create innovative solutions by starting with the USP of such programs.”

Supported by our international coaching team, they collaborated for two weeks to develop solution ideas for our project partners, focused on the question of what added value Design Thinking can bring to tech projects.


A double-fold immersion in Design Thinking

The Global Design Thinking Workshop has two learning aspects. On the one hand our students worked on a team project related to blockchain technology. And on the other hand, they gained a deeper understanding of how to develop teams with equality and equity.

We define teamed leadership as an emergent, interactive, multi-directional influence process. Team leaders, who are committed to a shared vision, lead their team(s) and each other with a purpose and in an empathetic way. They enhance team performance by holding themselves mutually accountable and by supporting team wellbeing as well as team learning.

During the workshop, participants therefore learned about the Design Thinking methods and mindset and at the same time continuously reflected their teamwork and team development.

GDTW Dr. Claudia Nicolai


Final Presentation Ball Championships

Building on that focus on team collaboration, the final presentations of the workshop weeks were designed in a special team sports atmosphere as the “GDTW Final Presentation Ball Championships”.

After two weeks of intense work with their coaches, the Design Thinking teams presented their prototypes and shared learnings from reflecting their team work.

The aim of the solutions developed by the teams is to raise awareness and interest in companies to participate in programs combining Design Thinking and blockchain. Many of the presented ideas especially focused on bringing human-centeredness to blockchain applications, that often seem abstract for users. The ideas emphasized that the concept of blockchain needs to become tangible. Moreover, companies need a safe environment to exchange with others and learn about the opportunities of blockchain technology.

Two teams identified gamification as an effective way to interest companies in blockchain technologies. Small and medium-sized companies often do not know much about the benefits of implementing blockchain technology. A “blockchain adventure game” with several levels could help those companies to get ready to implement blockchain in a playful and visual way and by providing them with a concrete roadmap outlining the next steps. Another team developed the idea of an edutainment game that helps company representatives to understand and this way make the concept of blockchain more accessible. In the game players could test a real-life blockchain application and exchange with other players.

One of the teams also learned during the Design Thinking process that personalized communication is essential when trying to inspire businesses about the benefits of blockchain. For companies that participate in programs about blockchain and Design Thinking it would be important to become part of larger community, exchanging and co-creating with experts, students and other companies.

Selling blockchain using blockchain was another approach presented by a team. They suggested a decentralized marketing strategy with an app built on blockchain technology. Such an app could help connecting and matching potential cooperation partners across industries. This way it could also foster interdisciplinary collaboration that leads to more innovative solutions.

GDTW Teamed Leadership

The project partners Volksbank Mittweida and Teleskopeffekt thanked the teams, coaches and the HPI D-School team for this unique collaboration experience. “As the saying goes: Time is flies when you are having fun and that is exactly how we feel. The teams were a big inspiration to us with their great ideas. We are really thankful to be a partner and happy to continue our cooperation in the future!”, said Sonja Hahn-Tomer, Innovation Manager at TeleskopEffekt. The GDTW marks the kick off of a long-term partnership between Volksbank Mittweida and Hasso Plattner Institute.

The Global Design Thinking Workshop (GDTW) is the introductory Design Thinking study program 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. The program consists of five different workshops that offer deep dives into the most important aspects of the Design Thinking approach.

The next GDTW will take place in September 2021 and applications will open in the middle of May 2021.