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Innovation through Design Thinking (19CBA85552)

General information






S semester

ECTS Credits:


Teaching Staff:

Group Teacher Department Language
Nanita Ferrone Operaciones, Innovación y Data Sciences ENG
Núria Solsona Caba Operaciones, Innovación y Data Sciences ENG


An interest in innovation and creativity. An attitude of eagerness, pro-activeness, openness to collaborate and work hard (and have fun).

Workload distribution

Lectures: 30%
Participatory sessions / autonomous team work: 70%

Course Learning Objectives

The World Economic Forum listed both creativity and complex problem solving in the top three skills workers need in 2020. No surprise, as the challenges we need to solve are often unstable, unpredictable and complex - also in the world of business and management. And to successfully operate in this environment, we need to be able to combine analytical and creative approaches.

The main objective of this course is to help students develop creative thinking skills and the ability to move from conceptual thinking to taking action. During the course, we will follow the Design Thinking approach and related methodology to tackle an innovation challenge. The course is carried out as a studio where the student teams will work on their challenge, receiving a weekly lecture about practical methods that they can soon put into practice, as well as personal guidance during the contact hours.

After this course you will be able to
- identify market opportunities: understand how to explore unmet user needs and problems "worth solving?
- respond to market opportunities: create solutions that are desirable, feasible, and viable
- validate your ideas: create early prototypes and experiments to get initial feedback to your ideas
- facilitate creative innovation work leveraging the design thinking methodology

The skills practiced in the course include the ability to gain deep insights about users, to use these insights for defining and reframing problems into actionable statements and generating ideas to solve the identified problem. Furthermore, students will learn to prototype and carry out practical experiments that are central to move from an idea to innovation.

This course offers:
1. Understanding of the links between innovation, value creation, and the role creativity plays.
2. Experience-based learning of a user-centric innovation approach and related methods.
3. Ability to design and manage innovation projects by carrying out a real short-term innovation project.
4. Understanding of the dynamics of learning and knowledge management necessary for innovation projects.
5. Know-how for fostering creative and innovative groups.

Session structure: From opportunity identification to designing and testing the offering

Session 1: Introduction to Design Thinking -approach
- Getting to know the approach, and its methods
- Viewing Design Thinking alongside other innovation approaches

Session 2: Identifying opportunities for innovation
- How to search for ideas: identifying a "problem worth solving?
- How to make sense of ill defined problems

Session 3: Gaining empathy
- How to go deeper in understanding the customer
- Observation, empathy prototypes, conversations with "problem owners?

Session 4: Interpreting the findings
- How to move from field notes to a point-of-view statement
- Preparing for idea generation

Session 5: Idea generation and selection
- Entering the solution space: methods for ideation and raising the quality of ideas
- Methods for evaluating ideas initially

Session 6: Prototyping I
- Introduction to prototyping & some methods
- Preparing for the first prototype and experiment

Session 7: Prototyping II
- How to reflect on the feedback & iterate
- Preparing for second experiment

Session 8: Refining the solution, bringing the concept together
- How to bring all learning together, into a coherent concept
- Business model canvas

Session 9: Final presentations
- Team presentations & peer-to-peer feedback
- Course wrap-up

Assessment criteria

Participation during class: 15%
Assignments during the course: 35%
Final project outcome and presentation: 50%
Peer evaluation: +/-



Recommended Articles
- Creativity is not enough, 1963, Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business Review
- Design Thinking, Tim Brown, 2008, Harvard Business Review
- Design Thinking Comes of Age, 2015, Jon Kolko, Harvard Business Review
- Learning to use design thinking tools for successful innovation, 2011, Jeanne Liedtka, Strategy and Leadership
- How Indra Nooyi Turned Design Thinking Into Strategy: An Interview with PepsiCo's CEO:
- PepsiCo's Chief Design Officer on Creating an Organization Where Design Can Thrive:
- Design Thinking and How It Will Change Management Education: An
Interview and Discussion, 2006, David Dunne & Roger Martin, Academy of Management Learning & Education

- Change by Design, 2009, Tim Brown
- This is Service Design Thinking, 2012, Marc Stickdorn & Jakob Schneider
- Designing for Growth, 2011, By Jeanne Liedtka, Tim Ogilvie

Recommended videos
- A design thinking documentary:
- Tim Brown on Creativity and Play: html
- Tim Brown, Innovation through Design Thinking: 9138/
- IDEO Shopping Cart project: YCieI
- Interview with David Kelley, founder of IDEO, Stanford

Timetable and sections

Group Teacher Department
Nanita Ferrone Operaciones, Innovación y Data Sciences
Núria Solsona Caba Operaciones, Innovación y Data Sciences