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Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation

Discover Opportunities for Innovation through Agile Creative Problem Solving

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Course Content - Download PDF

Qualification Certificate of Completion
Delivery Online. First class will be hybrid for optional in-person meet-and-greet
Duration 8 weeks, Thursdays, 5 x 3 Hour Masterclasses 10:00-1:00pm, 3 x 1.5 Hour Greenhouse Sessions 11:30-1:00pm, total duration 19.5 hours tuition time
Course Fees €950 per person;
Early bird rate: €750 to confirmed and paid applicants before 30th September 2022
Course Content Session 1: Creative Thinking for Business
Session 2: Introduction to Creative Problem Solving
Module 3: Greenhouse 1: Challenge introductions
Session 4: Introduction to Design Thinking
Session 5: Rapid Idea Generation and Insight
Session 6: Greenhouse – Idea refinement
Session 7: Design Thinking for Strategy and Change Management
Session 8: Greenhouse – Presentation Showcase

Next delivery for Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation begins 27th October 2022 to 15th December 2022 - Register your interest below:


Organisations, their business models, markets and the people they serve are constantly in flux. Disruptive innovation is everywhere, change is constant. In this modern-day work environment, originality, ingenuity and creativity are essential to stay current and not lose ground to competitors.

To be truly innovative, we must elicit and seek to understand the perspectives of those impacted by the products, services and policies we develop. Effective design is user centred, addresses a tangible problem and is rooted in human empathy. If as organisations and individuals, we focus on addressing human needs, through problem identification, insight generation and deferral of judgement, it will dramatically increase the likelihood of viable solutions, meaningful impact and ultimately competitive advantage.

This programme is a deep dive into the power of creative problem-solving and human-centred design thinking methodology. It explores how our approach to problem solving can have a significant impact on the proposed solution. It introduces tools and techniques that place human beings at the centre of the process, ensuring that we are solving the right problem for the right audience and not being guided by our own assumptions. With this understanding, leaders can identify what might be affecting a team's successful approach to problem-solving and innovation.

Leaders will leave the programme with a clear implementation plan to introduce and embed this human-centred approach across their organisational processes, strategy and culture.

What are the programme outcomes?

Specifically, this programme is designed for mid-seniors and will enable them to:

  • Foster a culture of originality, ingenuity and creativity in themselves, their teams and their organisations.
  • Drive product and service solutions that are needs focused, with persistent emphasis on the customer.
  • Integrate Design Thinking into the Strategic and Change Management practices of their organisation.

Who is this programme for?

This programme is designed for mid-senior leaders who have an ambition or remit to become innovation ambassadors within their organisation – including but not limited to those with at least three years of people management experience. It is particularly suited to those wishing to foster a culture of originality, ingenuity and creativity in themselves, their teams and their organisations. The programme does not assume any prior knowledge or training in the subject areas.

Who can I contact for more information about the programme?

Contact: Shay Butler, HCI Programme Manager - tangentcourses@tcd.ie  

Course Topics

Creative Thinking for Business
Release your creative potential and that of your team.

  • What is creativity? How inclusive is it?
  • Principles of creative thinking;
  • Bridges and barriers to creative thinking;
  • The CPS (Creative Problem Solving) Model.

Reflection Question: If you had everything you needed to think creatively and perform at your best, what problems would you solve at work?

Introduction to Creative Problem Solving
Discover fresh perspectives and opportunity in the problems you face.
  • Convergent and divergent thinking;
  • Invitational stems to frame problems as questions;
  • Techniques to defer or suspend judgement;
  • Action planning incorporating Assistors and Resistors.

Reflection Question: What’s the most important problem for you and your team to solve at work? Try to phrase that problem as a ‘How might we…’ statement.

Introduction to Design Thinking
Develop a healthy obsession with your customer.
  • Design Thinking skills, and how they relate to creativity, innovation and brainstorming; 
  • Problem definition; identifying customer needs and user groups;
  • Customer journeys and empathy mapping. 

Reflection Question: To make progress on your ‘How Might We…’ statement who are the stakeholders you need to meet and empathise with?

Rapid Idea Generation and Insight
Stimulate unconstrained ideation and insight
  • Creating the right environment for generating ideas;   
  • Tools and techniques for divergent thinking; 
  • Tools and techniques for convergent thinking; 
  • An introduction to the Basadur Innovation profile for individuals and teams.
Reflection Question: Based on your Basadur results, what profile do you present at work? How does the profile of your colleagues differ? Given your team's overall profile, what tools might you use to stimulate ideas and insight?

Design Thinking for Strategy and Change Management
Embed Design Thinking at the organisational level
  • Principles of Design Thinking at the organisational level;
  • Using Design Thinking to overcome barriers to strategic thinking and justifiable change management;
  • Techniques to drive Design Thinking at the organisational level: What's in my Design Thinking toolkit?
Reflection Question: Following this programme, what is the first step in your plan to embed Design Thinking into your organisation’s strategic practices?  

How is this programme unique?

This programme recognises that innovation needs more than just the right people to drive it. It relies on detailed and repeatable processes to be successful. This programme covers theoretical concepts but also focuses on empowering participants with the practical skills needed to positively impact their work environment. The programme includes three Greenhouse sessions - providing you with the support to develop your plan for tackling your organisational challenge.

What are the Greenhouse sessions included in the programme?

The Greenhouse is a space where seeds are planted, and new ideas grow. These are facilitator-led collaborative sessions (held in weeks 3, 6 and 8) where participants apply their learning to a specific work-related challenge. Reflective questions posed in each programme session are designed to trigger and subsequently advance the challenge you decide to address. The Greenhouse is a time and place to receive support, gather feedback and experiment in a non-judgemental environment.

The first Greenhouse (Week 3) provides the opportunity to define your challenge and consider its success criteria. This is a chance to share with peers, seek alternative perspectives, perform group fact-finding, and adjust your ideas accordingly.

The second Greenhouse (Week 6) is where your refined approach shall be shared for further discussion and comment, this time with a direct focus on implementation. The planned output shall be an advanced implementation plan, including a targeted stakeholder engagement strategy.

The third and final Greenhouse (Week 8) is a programme-closing event, where you will reflect on how your challenge evolved and advanced over the course of the programme. What changed and why? Who influenced your thinking, and at what stage? This reflection shall provide invaluable insight as you return to your organisation with a further refined plan to address the challenge.

When does the programme run

Next delivery for Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation begins 27th October 2022
Five masterclass sessions from 10am to 1pm;
Three greenhouse sessions from 11:30 to 1pm;

Who teaches the programme?


Jonathan Bannister BA - Design Thinker 

In October 2020, the World Economic Forum affirmed that the three most critical skills businesses require to remain competitive and manage change over the next five years are innovation, active learning and complex problem-solving. These skills are the very skills that Jonathan has spent the last decade helping leaders embed in their organisations.

As part of the Creative Education Foundation's core faculty, Jonathan is at the forefront of designing and delivering courses in creativity, design thinking, design sprints, and complex problem-solving. Jonathan has also designed the Social Business Canvas, a tool to help social entrepreneurs design and map their business models. Jonathan helps to transform organisations and leaders across both the public and private sectors including Nottingham Business School, BlueJeans, Morgan Sindall and Fauceria.