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Design Thinking for Business Innovation

Come with A Problem – Leave with A Solution
Boost Your Business Potential with Design Thinking

Design Thinking is an approach to innovation that is driven by deep user understanding, early prototyping, and iterative testing of the potential solutions. It is a practical methodology and process that guides the development of new, innovative products and services, processes, business models, and strategies.

For corporate leaders and managers, the Design Thinking for Business Innovation program from Aalto University Executive Education and Esade Business School will take you on a six-day deep dive into its practical and actionable methodology and show you how to make it work. 

You will learn the central methods and concepts of Design Thinking, and practice using Design Thinking first-hand through a real innovation challenge that you bring with you from your own organization.

By the end of the program, you will be able to identify opportunities for innovation through user research, develop innovative ideas, turn the ideas into early prototypes, and test them with users for feedback. Finally, you will learn how to practically apply Design Thinking to business models and how to implement it in your organization.

Why Design Thinking?

In the times of affluence and complex challenges, a solely analytical approach to innovating can no longer bring competitive advantage. The Design Thinking process, which is also the methodology behind Service Design (Palvelumuotoilu in Finnish), combines and mixes analytical and creative phases for solving business challenges in a practical way. It helps you to enhance creativity and your organization´s capability to innovate. Design Thinking combined with business innovation methodology forms a powerful and actionable approach to innovation.

It is vital to leverage deep customer understanding to be able to cater to the ever-growing, varying demands of customers and users.  Design Thinking methods guide toward rethinking and reframing the challenges and acquiring new insights for idea development. The new concepts are prototyped and get validated by your customer. The Design Thinking / Service Design process and methodology can be applied to developing new, innovative products and services, processes, business models, and strategies.

Download Brochure Reserve Seat (Non-Binding)

Reframe your company’s challenges and transform them into business opportunities

Create solutions based on true customer understanding

Fast-track development by testing and validating your concepts


This program is for corporate leaders responsible for strategy, marketing, sales or innovation, as well as senior executives and managers who want to integrate cutting-edge creative practices into their business processes and corporate structures.

Previous participants have been leaders of business development, marketing, sales, innovation, customer relations, employee experience, and general management from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

You can study Design Thinking also online. Check the online course.


By attending the program, you will gain a toolkit of new skills, ready to drive innovation and create value for your business and customers.

Gain customer understanding and insight to meet real customer needs
Quickly develop, prototype and validate concepts
Quantify value propositions and increase the effectiveness of your sales pitches
Drive business model design and maximize value creation and value capture
Conceive and execute agile strategies that link innovation to growth
Generate and implement cross-company innovation – on all levels

Contents and Schedule

The Design Thinking for Business Innovation program will be held in Helsinki, Finland and Barcelona, Spain during an intensive study period on June 1–8, 2022.

The program starts with an online module two weeks prior to the event days. This virtual kick-off will get you started with the program content as well as with the project assignment you will be working on during the program. The kick-off module is an integral part of the program and will require about one working hour per week during the two weeks.

The six program days in Helsinki and Barcelona include different kinds of sessions and activities such as

  • interactive lectures and discussions with experienced faculty members that are top experts in their own special field
  • learning by doing: applying step by step the design-driven innovation methods to a real-life business challenge that you bring from your organization 
  • learning from others: experienced business practitioners from different industries or branches will present how design thinking is used in their organizations


Key Instructors

Mikko Koria

Mikko Koria is Professor of Design Innovation and Director of the Institute for Design Innovation in Loughborough University London, and Visiting Professor at Aalto University.

Dr. Koria has a career that spans over twenty-five years of professional management, practice and research in the private, public and the third sectors. In the last years, Mikko has directed his efforts to the field of innovation and related capability management, design and management research and international development projects. He has done research, lectured and taught widely in the fields of design, culture and business studies at various universities and faculties in Finland, China, Japan, Brazil and the UK.

Luis Vives

Luis Vives is the Associate Dean of the ESADE MBA, Director of the Multinational MBA and Associate Professor of Strategy and General Management at ESADE Business School.

His research focuses on the creation and development of innovative business models.

Tua Björklund

Dr. Tua Björklund is Assistant Professor and one of the founders of Aalto Design Factory, a multidisciplinary experimentation platform in Aalto University and 29 institutions abroad. Her research focuses on design expertise and advancing new ideas in organizations, building on her experience at Aalto University and at the Center for Design Research at Stanford University.

Tua Björklund has a comprehensive, human-centered view on what innovation efforts actually need in order to succeed in organizations. She teaches design thinking and innovation practices in three schools of Aalto University, as well at e.g. Aalto EE and Stanford Executive Education. Currently she leads the development of research activities in the Design Factory Global Network and manages several research projects investigating design thinking in Finland and in Silicon Valley. She is experienced in supervising design thinking development initiatives for companies in practice.

Tua Björklund holds a DSc degree in industrial engineering and management from Aalto University and a MA degree in cognitive science from the University of Helsinki.

Núria Solsona

Nuria Solsona is the Academic Director of the Program Design Thinking for Business Innovation at Esade in Barcelona. In addition to that, she is an Adjunct Professor in Service Design at Aalto University.

She has 6,5 years of experience designing services and developing businesses at the world-famous design consultancy Livework. As a project lead, she was responsible for managing international projects for leading public and private organizations in a wide range of sectors including clients from BBC, Telefonica, Orange, Barclays, London Underground, or the Thailand government.

Solsona has experienced different levels of service consultancy, from customer strategy, service vision, service proposition, and service implementation as well as defining digital strategies and adoption of new online and mobile services such as mobile payments applications.

She combines a creative perspective with a management approach garnered by studying for an MA in Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins in London, UK, which built on her background in design. She brings a deep understanding of user needs by applying service design methods and customer-oriented frameworks allowing clients and customers to co-create services both from the perspective of the corporation and from the user value perspective.

Solsona has also participated in a variety of projects embedding the service design approach. Her ability to understand organizations' challenges has empowered internal teams to improve their services every day. She is currently based in Barcelona, working as an independent service design consultant.

Floris van der Marel

Floris van der Marel is researcher at the Aalto Design Factory, a multidisciplinary experimentation platform in Aalto University and 29 institutions abroad. His research focuses on unheard voices in design initiatives. He is interested in how certain perspectives are included, heard, respected, and equally responded to, whereas others are more ignored, or forgotten.

Passionate about exploring tensions between bringing people with different ways of thinking and doing together, he has amassed considerable practical experience in designing, facilitating and researching Participatory Design practice in several contexts, e.g. for the European Union in Vietnam, for MIT’s International Design Centre in Singapore, for Future Design Factory in the Netherlands and for Aalto University Design Factory in Finland. Currently he is doing his double degree doctoral studies at Aalto and Design Factory Melbourne combining Participatory Design and research practices to amplify unheard voices and challenging power imbalances in a hospital context in rural Victoria, Australia.

Floris van der Marel holds a MSc in Design Research for Interaction from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and Middle East Technical University in Turkey with a project studying the sociological impact of a small wood stove in a tribal area in India.

Aalto Leaders' Insight

Program Fee and Registration

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