Executive Education Redesigned – The Design Thinking Expedition

What does it take to experience and not just learn about design thinking? At Goodpatch, we think it is essential to go beyond theory and solve real problems. Together with the University of Zurich and Stanford University, we created a 5-day Design Thinking Learning Expedition. In this program, executive MBA students experience the entire design journey from the challenge to the prototype while closely working with startups.

To provide a real-life setting, we organised real challenges from five international startups. The group included exciting startups like Materra, ProjectTogether, Evenito, Aaron, and Planted.

"It was inspiring to see how well the candidates navigated our challenge and came up with creative solutions and prototypes in a very short time. Especially as a start-up, every extra pair of hands and "brain" helps to push the company's mission forward." - Marion Höchli, planted

Think outside the box

The Goodpatch approach to teaching builds on the tried and tested methods that made design thinking so successful. However, it expands them with a strong emphasis on the mindset that drives the approach. This mindset can only be understood once design thinking is experienced firsthand while working with real-life challenges.

An output-driven approach is especially fruitful in executive training as it breaks up the common routines within organizations. It allows students to think outside the box and experiment with new ways of working. In addition, enriching design thinking with planet centric design methods empowers the participants to learn skills that will only increase in importance in the years to come. Through this immersion, we make sure that students don’t just go back to work and forget everything but instead can apply the design thinking mindset on a number of occasions.

Design Thinking Challenge for startup planted foods

The design thinking expedition week in review

For the 20 students, the week started with an introduction to the startups and their unique challenges. They deconstructed the challenges and organized them into three maps. In the context map, a zoomed outlook on the challenge was created. What are the influences? What is essential to keep in mind? Which areas are we touching with the challenge? In the stakeholder map, the student teams took a look at all the stakeholders involved, including planetary stakeholders. The planet-centric design approach was crucial throughout the week, from startups' choice to the final prototype. Lastly, an empathy map allowed the students to get a better understanding of the needs of the people and stakeholders they were about to design for. With this base, the students started working on interview guides to further explore the challenges.

To start day two, Tamara Carleton from Stanford University held a lecture on foresight thinking in design and how to visualize different futures. Later this day, the students conducted their first interviews with stakeholders. For many, the encounters with potential customers were inspiring. On the one hand, as it was their first time conducting interviews, on the other hand, because the challenges suddenly became much more relatable.

On day three, the participants left the problem phase and entered the solution phase. After doing all the research, the teams defined and clustered their insights. In the afternoon, after more input from Semir Chouaibi, Head of Retail innovation at Edeka, the students brainstormed ideas for solutions. The best ideas were turned into idea napkins. Always in mind – the impact the idea has on the planet. The day ended with a lecture by Larry Leifer, a driving force behind design thinking at Stanford University and HPI.

Day four was all about prototyping and testing. The students made their ideas tangible in a prototype to test them with real users and potential users by the end of the day.

On the last day, the teams presented their experiences and results of the week to their startup partners and the coaching team. Not with a PowerPoint presentation or keynote, but with hands-on prototypes to continue to learn as much as possible from their ideas and solutions.

The group's results were highly appreciated by the start-ups that now can go on and build upon the insights and prototypes that were developed throughout the week.

Perks of a real-life setting

The real-life setting made it possible for the participants to get a feeling of actual design thinking processes. Boris Jitsukata precisely sums it up: "Design Thinking has a crucial impact on the world. This is why we immediately left the "classroom" and brought the students together with startups to work on real sustainability challenges to directly experience the value of applying a Design Thinking mindset."

We at Goodpatch believe in the power of Design. To prove what's possible when going beyond theory, we created the Goodpatch Design Thinking Learning Expedition.

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Written by

Peter Obradović


Peter Obradović







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