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

D-School Advanced Track in Design Thinking (Wintersemester 2021/2022)

Dozent: Dr. Claudia Nicolai (D-School)
Website zum Kurs: https://hpi.de/school-of-design-thinking/studium/advanced-track.html

Allgemeine Information

  • Semesterwochenstunden: 6
  • ECTS: 9
  • Benotet: Ja
  • Einschreibefrist: 31.07.2021
  • Lehrform: Projekt / Seminar
  • Belegungsart: Wahlpflichtmodul
  • Lehrsprache: Englisch
  • Maximale Teilnehmerzahl: 40

Studiengänge, Modulgruppen & Module

IT-Systems Engineering BA
IT-Systems Engineering MA
  • Professional Skills
    • HPI-PSK-DTA Design Thinking Advanced
Data Engineering MA
Digital Health MA
Cybersecurity MA


Design Thinking is a life-centered approach to purposefully design innovative solutions for complex problems with an impact.

This course serves to deepen the concept of "Design Thinking" and focuses on the introduction and application of new methods in the areas of designing (Design), developing (Engineering) and implementing (Business Design) to particularly address the issues of innovation, change, and transformation within organizations.

The focus is on problem-based learning; imparted by working on a concrete project question together with a project partner (large and medium-sized companies, public institutions and non-profit organizations). Together with the project partner, a problem definition is developed (design challenge) and this is worked on in a diverse and interdisciplinary team along the design thinking process in order to arrive at strategically relevant innovations. The aim is to find creative ideas, turn them into functional prototypes and create sustainable business designs.

For this purpose, in contrast to the event "Design Thinking Basics - Basic Track", several iterations of the process (Understand, Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test) are run through. We will conduct 3 Design Thinking sprints/iterations:

  • Inspiration,
  • Co-Creation,
  • Design Implementation.

The innovation concepts must be tested for their technical feasibility and implemented, and a suitable business design must be developed. With the support of the project partner, the aim is to implement a new business idea or organizational change concept.

During the semester there will also be so-called "Learning Journeys", in which we will deepen topics such as "Life-Centeredness", "Innovation", "Leadership".

Whoever is interested

  • in diving into the life-centered design of innovations in "real" projects,
  • wants to learn more about design thinking methods and tools,
  • likes to work on practical issues and problems,
  • would like to build prototypes,
  • likes to work in interdisciplinary teams
  • is interested in innovation and project management and
  • also want to realize an idea and turn it into a business design

is very welcome in this course.


The course is co-designed by Dr. Claudia Nicolai, Jentz Tan, and Sherif Osman. If you have any questions about the schedule and content, please contact Dr. Claudia Nicolai (Claudia.Nicolai(at)hpi.de) and Jen Tzen Tan (JenTzen.Tan(at)hpi.de).




To be eligible to apply for this course you have either completed:

  • Basic Track in Design Thinking (at the HPI D-School),
  • 2 Global Design Thinking Workshops (at the HPI D-School), or
  • Global Team-Based Innovation (GTI/ME310/SUGAR at the HPI or any other institution from the ME310/SUGAR-Network)

A separate application via the HPI D-School is required for this course. The application period for the winter semester 2021/22 has already passed.

The application for the summer term 2022 will open in November 2021Please register here to get informed about the application start for the next term (as this course is offered every winter and summer semester). Further information will be also published on our website.



We recommend taking this course as:

  • Students in any Master's program: any semester
  • Students in any Bachelor's program: 5th - 6th semester



We recommend the following resources to get a thorough overview of Design Thinking as a concept:

  • Beckmann, S.L. & Barry, M. (2007): Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding Design Thinking, California Management Review, 50 (1): 25-56.
  • Brown, T. (2008): Design Thinking, Harvard Business Review, 86 (June): 84-92.
  • Brown, T. (2009): Change by Design - How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.
  • Kelley, T. & Kelley, D. (2013): Creative Confidence.
  • Kelley, T. & Littman, J. (2001): The Art of Innovation.
  • Kolko, J. (2011): Exposing the Magic of Design. 
  • Liedtka, J. & Ogilvie, T. (2011): Designing for Growth - A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers.
  • Martin, R. (2009): The Design of Business.
  • McGrath, R. G. (2011): Failing by Design, Harvard Business Review, 89 (April), 77-83.
  • Nussbaum, B. (2013): Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire.
  • Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. (2010): Business Model Generation.
  • Seelig, T. (2012): ingenius - A Crash Course on Creativity.

And if you already want to learn more about Design Thinking, we recommend our openHPI-course Beyond Brockhaus Thinking: With Design Thinking to a Networked Culture.


Lern- und Lehrformen

Design Thinking Goes Hybrid

Since March 2020, we have developed entirely new virtual programs for our Basic Track and Advanced Track students and GDTW and Wayfinder. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our programs in the fall semester of 2021/22. This disruption has propelled our program design and how our participants, coaches, and partners collaborate in a new form: Design Thinking in a hybrid space, combining the virtual format with on-site work in the Design Thinking spaces at HPI D-School.

The virtual program takes place two days per week. It consists of live inputs from our program & coaching team and collaborative teamwork in the digital space, supported by interactive live coaching sessions. We use various digital tools, such as the virtual whiteboard "Miro" and our online learning platform "openHPI". Our program team also creates an open culture of experimentation in the virtual space, promoting creative self-confidence (concept of psychological safety).

Physical presence in Potsdam is generally not necessary for participation in the Advanced Track in the winter semester 2021/22, but it is highly recommended for team members and coaches who will be nearby the HPI D-School to experience working in a hybrid format from the onsite perspective. For all others: the format we offer can be conducted from any location. As participants, you are willing to actively participate during daytime hours on the CEST/CET time zone program days.

All physical Design Thinking spaces at the HPI D-School are equipped with appropriate technology to work in a hybrid setting (part of the team on-site, part of the team remote/distributed). This results in a hybrid format that defines the next step towards "new work". We want to allow all participants in our program to experience this new innovative form of collaboration.


Our learning approach

Overall, the event has a multi-dimensional concept as its learning approach:

  • Thematic deepening and content discourse/discussion in the whole group
  • Live coaching and teamwork sessions with your individual team coach
  • Exchange and collaboration with other design thinking teams
  • Inspiring inputs and short presentations
  • Individual reflections on content and your own learning experience


During the program, all project teams are accompanied and supported by highly experienced Design Thinking coaches from the HPI D-School. The teams work along their innovation/change/transformational project with a broad array of design thinking methods. In addition to practical project work, the conceptual framework of innovation management, teamwork, and design thinking tools and methods will also be introduced.



Prerequisites for obtaining graded ECTS are:

  • Attendance and regular participation on program days
  • Active participation in your project teams
  • Two interim documentations for your project
  • Final presentation of your partner project


Achievement of graded ECTS consists of:

  • Summary of the project results of the 16-week-project in a project poster, project documentation (approx. 50 - 60 pages) and a detailed description of the prototype (100 %)

The delivery and submission is done together in the project team.



This hybrid course will be held weekly on two program days (Monday and Thursday) from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (CET).

The dates for the winter semester 2021/2022 are:

- First day of the program: 18.10.2021 (as pre-launch)

- Last day of the program: 17.2.2022

- Deadline for submission of the final version of the project documentation: 7.3.2022


The total time investment in this course is 16-20 hours/week. On program days, we require active participation for a total of 10 working hours (either onsite or virtual). In addition, we expect all participants to invest an additional 6-10 working hours per week in teamwork and individual contributions to the program. You can plan this time independently. Our experienced Design Thinking coaches are also available to provide support for this.

You can download the semester overview here.