Scandinavian leadership meets design thinking

Scandinavian leadership meets design thinking

Helsinki, the capital of Finland – is a stunning scene of startup spirit and entrepreneurship, which is characterized by a great and one-of-a-kind innovative force.

It is no coincidence that it is the latest element added to the list of international student residencies in the Global Executive MBA program of the WU Executive Academy.

Helsinki will complement the study travel calendar, which has so far included destinations in Asia and South America. The new partner university is not new at all: WU has long had links with Aalto University, which, thanks to its Aalto EE department of executive education, is one of the leading Scandinavian universities.

Participants in the new residency in Finland will not only have the opportunity to gain extensive experience in design thinking and learn from unique companies in the region but will also be able to experience their creative potential as they face new forms of leadership and deeply innovative business culture. Reference: “Five phrases that leaders need to use more often“,

Students in the current Global Executive MBA program were the first to embark on a study trip to Finland in early November. In collaboration with colleagues from Aalto EE, the WU Executive Academy team led by Dean Prof. Barbara Stöttinger and Program Manager Elke Lerch organized a diverse program for MBA students, filled with interactive theory sessions and study visits to twelve innovative companies in Finland.

Inspiration to rethink leadership styles and approaches to innovation

“We have had a close relationship and close cooperation with Aalto University for a long time. We decided to offer a residence in Helsinki due to the interdisciplinary approach of the university and its strong focus on creativity and design. Helsinki’s innovative and surprisingly lively entrepreneurial scene also played a role.

Our goal through this residency is to allow students to gain an in-depth look at how design thinking and service design enrich corporate and leadership practices in Nordic countries.

On the other hand, we want them to develop creative methods to apply in their leadership practice so that it helps them contribute to creating a satisfying corporate culture, “said Barbara Stöttinger about the reasons why Finland was chosen as the new residence of the leading program of the WU Executive Academy, Global Executive MBA.

Students gain basic knowledge of design thinking from online lessons and seminars before the trip. This allows them to immerse themselves in discussions with their teachers and fellow students as soon as they arrive.

The close alliance between theory and practice

In the mornings, students work on a variety of learning areas related to innovation and creativity and are encouraged to pay special attention to how learning content relates to their leadership practice.

Participants listen to lectures by Fabian Sepulveda of Aalto EE on leadership in innovation, Tuomas Auvinen of the School of Art, Design, and Architecture on leadership that stimulates new creative ideas, and Tua Bjorklund and Floris van der Marel of Aalto Design Factory on design thinking.

Visits to selected companies in the afternoon are in line with the curriculum reviewed in the morning. In small groups, students visit sustainable and innovative organizations such as Kela, the Finnish government’s social security agency, S-Group, and the Kesko retail company, where meeting rooms and rest areas are specially designed to meet the needs of employees.

Students also take a virtual reality tour of the recently opened futuristic annex at Helsinki Airport, led by a responsible design manager. Finally, they have time to explore Helsinki on their own and visit sights such as the National Library of Finland, where they can not only enjoy rooms for music and PlayStation games but also encounter futuristic robots in action.

Enthusiastic feedback from students

Adeline, one of the students in the Global Executive MBA program who works as a Quality Manager, found the S-Group visit particularly useful: “I would like to thank Lauri Toivonen, S-Group’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, for taking the time to show us how to turn design and creativity into integral components of their corporate concepts and also to explain to us the benefits as a result. I appreciate visiting such carefully selected places that support the theory with real-life examples. ”

David Clement, CEO, and founder of Confident is also witnessing a huge push to change design thinking. “Design thinking paves the way for innovation.

This is the case with many companies, including mine. When we visited the Finnish government agency Kela, which is responsible for all national social security programs, I realized how design thinking can contribute to the successful transformation of organizations.

Using innovative strategies to develop individual solutions for customers and continuously adapt them as they are implemented creates a decisive competitive advantage. “David concludes:” Skillful application of design thinking in a business context significantly increases the chances of innovation paying off. “

In general, the participants in the program are impressed by the experiences and new creative knowledge gained during the study trip: “Our trip to Helsinki was a great success.

Not only have we adopted a systematic approach to tackling professional challenges based on design thinking, but we have also gained exciting new insights and insights into how managers can design ecosystems that drive innovation, ”said Rafael Gonçalves Oliveira, global brand manager at Red Bull.

On the last day of the residency in Finland, students present the knowledge gained through group work during the week in a creative way: typical Finnish “roast dog” presentations contain self-recorded videos and an interactive role-playing game.

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