Design Thinking Executive Training Vol. 1


When it comes to innovation, one has to keep in mind the significance of recognizing the needs of people in their strategies. This especially applies to individuals in executive positions that have to incorporate more than the possibilities of technology and requirements of business into their innovation strategy. Spark Labs Design Thinking Executive Training offers an extensive opportunity to unleash one’s full innovation capability. Eight professionals in executive positions had the chance to address today’s innovation challenges using Human-Centered Design on the 9th and 10th of June. 

Before being able to implement a tailored strategy into their organizations, Design Thinking principles, and essential tools have not only to be learned but practiced and applied – Spark Labs guided through the process. Our training is split in two days, each covering a convergent and divergent phase. Soon, executives were introduced to a bigger challenge that enables them to implement human-centered strategies into their companies:

How can we raise awareness about sustainable consumption during vacation?

Having had this experience gives me confidence that I have not only learnt the concepts but more importantly that I am able to apply it to my work and achieve business results.
— I. Silvia, DT Executive Training Participant

Keeping the goal in mind to uncover people’s latent needs, another important aspect of Design Thinking arises: empathy. Empathy helps to discover the people that are impacted by the challenge. In order to detect stakeholder needs and map out of the problem, interviews were conducted on the street. Soon, the abundance of data was narrowed down to create a persona. Through examining surprises or contradictions that may have come up, a synthesis between collected and interpreted data can be created. As a result, two archetypes were found:

-    Sylvie, single student, mid-20’s, seeking authentic but fun experience. Environmentally conscious. Pain point: lack of money

-    Alex, postdoc, environmentally conscious, seeking travel with other adults as Sylvie that. Pain point: lack of time


Finally, the participants formed “how might we questions”, on-point issues that need to be solved as an aspect of the original research question. The created questions were then used to gain an overview of possible, feasible solutions. Through several voting methods, the teams chose one prototype per group. Testing the following prototypes is inevitable to make sure they fit the needs of the people this product was designed for:

-    Recompensation of emissions service: be taxed on your flights or not be taxed and participate in community service.

-     CO2 emission tracking app: connects tourists to eco-friendly activities they like through social media and tracks your trip regarding your footprint


Collected feedback on the ideas was later on implemented in these prototypes.

The program was exciting, insightful and valuable for my career.
— J. Armbruster, DT Executive Training Participant

After receiving input from one of our innovation partners on different types of innovation within companies, it was time for the executives to think about how to implement design thinking methods into their businesses processes.

Equipped with our design thinking method kit and an earned certificate from ETHZ & Chair of Technology and Innovation Management, they are ready to tackle their innovation challenges in a customer-centered way.