Improving innovation performance through strategic design leadership

Innovation is key for companies to prosper, but challenging at the same time. Companies need to cope with rapid technological evolution, complex innovation dynamics, and urgent societal challenges. Research has shown that strategic design practices can play a leading role in tackling these challenges, steering innovation towards successful outcomes.


This IDE Master Class is aimed at professionals who would like to take a more strategic role in the innovative efforts of companies, and who want to go beyond executing new product/service design briefs. With a fully renewed content, the Master Class will focus on a practice-based and research-validated process for growing design into a strategic partner for companies wanting to innovate meaningfully and successfully. Covered topics will include aspects like setting up a design strategy, organizing the design function in the right way, interacting with stakeholders, running strategic design projects and nurturing the design team. During the course participants will set up a long-term plan for scaling the impact of design and identify a set of tactics to get started with it. Furthermore, the course will make participants reflect on the most appropriate mindset and leadership style to operate in strategic contexts.

Learning Objectives

During this master class you will learn:

  • a design driven process and hands-on tactics for leading innovation projects and scale design impact;
  • key strategic design practices and some related tools;
  • a way of thinking that combines design principles and business relevance.


  • A process for scaling the impact of design in companies
  • Cases of strategic design practices and design leadership in use
  • Tactics for stakeholder engagement with strategic design projects


Giulia Calabretta is Associate Professor of Strategic Value of Design at IDE, TU Delft. She is researching design leadership and how design capabilities and methods can be effectively integrated in the strategy and processes of companies. She is a co-author of the recent book Design Leadership Ignited, where 59 design leaders from different industries and geographies share their experience in growing design into a strategic partner within their organization.