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Delft University of Technology

Design Leadership and Innovation

Delft University of Technology via edX Professional Education

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There is no doubt that innovation is key to progress. Companies worldwide invest millions per year on the development of new products and services that will ensure their economic sustainability. However, innovation is a challenging endeavor that requires strategic thinking, customer focus, the right organizational climate, and an effective management approach.

Designers, with their specific skills, can take a major part in driving innovation. This is already successfully happening in companies like SAP, Pepsi-Co and Philips, where design professionals play a leading role in steering innovation.

Inspired by these cases, this design course is aimed at designers who would like to take a more active role in the innovative efforts of companies, and who want to go beyond executing new product/service design briefs. It suits strategic designers with an interest in acquiring a more senior position in the company or even becoming a Chief Design Officer (CDO). Or designers with ambition to better understand and develop their strategic potential, become sparring partners in crafting briefs, and influence strategic decision-making within their organizations.

By using a three-step approach for leading and managing strategic innovation projects, this course will teach you how to harness your existing design practices – such as envisioning, orchestrating, inspiring, etc. and transform them into powerful innovation drivers. You will learn how to use these practices to impact strategic decision-making, win stakeholders’ support, and identify relevant KPIs. You will also learn how to adapt your design practices and design-driven way of working to a particular company. Finally, you will practice some design methods to make your impact durable over time.

Through a combination of short lectures, given by design and innovation experts, practical exercises, webinar and individualized feedback, you will learn which design capabilities and practices are most valued by companies, and how to use them effectively for improving a company’s innovation performance. To help you gain a better understanding of innovation, you will:

  • Learn how your strategic contributions can help companies create and capture value through innovation.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the organization you are working in.
  • Utilize this understanding to effectively interact with management and other stakeholders.



Week 1: Enabling design leadership
Introduction to working practices for leading strategic innovation projects. As a basis for the course, we will provide you with a 3 step process for leading innovation process and with a self-assessment tool for your evaluating your design leadership ‘readiness.'

Week 2: Preparing the ground

Learn to understand your company for strategic purposes. We will help you identify the core drivers of your company’s business, culture and offering to enable you to claim and practice your design leadership.

Week 3: Co-creating
Introduction to several tools to work effectively with stakeholders influencing innovation decision making. Different stakeholders have different priorities, how can you as a designer communicate with them and engage them in strategic innovation projects?

Week 4: Embedding

Learn how to have long lasting impact by embedding design practices and their outcomes in the company. Create your own plan to embed the 3 step model in your company. A webinar with different experts will answer your questions.

Taught by

Giulia Calabretta and Jürgen Tanghe


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