Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


The course will familiarize you with the new product development challenges and opportunities that product and service marketers face in complex (global) environments. You will obtain an understanding of the core approaches and concepts for developing user-centric innovations that allow firms to succeed in such fast-paced, fiercely competitive markets. In contact sessions, readings, and assignments you will gain knowledge of and will learn to apply the key managerial practices for managing a company s new product development in a market­oriented way.

Credits: 6

Schedule: 25.10.2022 - 01.12.2022

Teacher in charge (valid for whole curriculum period):

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Kristina Wittkowski

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation):

If you need any assistance, please check the discussions in the forum and the materials provided on the MyCourses webpage  (Course: MARK-C0079 - Driving Creativity and Innovation in Marketing: User-Centric Innovations, Lecture, 25.10.2022-1.12.2022).

Please check, if your issue has been already addressed, e.g., in previous posts. If this is not the case, you should post your question to the Discussion forum.

I should usually respond to your questions within 48 hours. On weekends, it could take longer :-).

Should you need my support on a private matter, please email directly ( We can then arrange a meeting and discuss face-to-face.

CEFR level (valid for whole curriculum period):

Language of instruction and studies (applies in this implementation):

Teaching language: English. Languages of study attainment: English


  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    In this course, we explore business models and strategies that allow firms to operate and innovate to sustain their market position, capture new markets, and/or enhance their organizational effectiveness. We will discuss the importance of innovations for businesses and review different approaches to innovate. We will focus on the design thinking approach and apply it, and we will examine related frameworks, theories, and analysis techniques for creating break-through, user-centric and design-driven innovations.

  • applies in this implementation

    The ever-changing global economy and the resulting new market structures, competitive landscapes, and consumer demands requires businesses to distance from the familiar and to foster innovation and agility. The speed of disruption of the technological evolution permeates companies and business models and causes businesses to rethink the ways they operate and innovate.

    In this course, we explore business models and strategies that allow firms to operate and innovate to sustain their market position, capture new markets, and/or enhance their organizational effectiveness. We will discuss the importance of innovations for businesses and review different approaches to innovate. We will especially talk about the design thinking approach and apply it, and we will examine related frameworks, theories, and analysis techniques for creating break-through, user-centric and design-driven innovations. This course helps you to develop your creative potential by learning to address problems where not all knowledge is available at the outset. In fun, hands-on individual and group activities, you can test and train your innovative mindset and expertise.

    The course encompasses intensive content teaching sessions on the relevance of innovations and design thinking as an approach to generate breakthrough ideas for innovations, on ideating, empathizing, rapid prototyping and testing.

    As a result of the learning activity, you will be able to

    ·       define innovation and recognize the importance of innovations in general

    ·       explain the importance of user-centric innovations in particular, and the need for a design thinking mindset

    ·       discuss different innovation approaches firms use and describe especially the Design Thinking approach and how it can generate innovations

    ·       explain key concepts and principles used in Design Thinking and identify relevant methods for empathizing, ideating, prototyping, testing

    ·       apply the Design Thinking approach to generate human-centric solutions

    ·       find that trial and error and/or failure are part of a valuable, creative innovation process

    ·       recognize the importance and effectivity of other innovation processes

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Compulsory individual and course assignments.

  • applies in this implementation

    The evaluation methods and criteria on this course aim to foster your learning and reflection. Therefore, the evaluation methods not only assess your understanding of the course content, but also require you to reflect on your own learning process. Based on this reflection you should then be able to improve your learning practices and habits.

    I believe that in-class interactions and discussions are vital to achieve the desired learning outcomes. Because of this, the assessment methods are designed such that they assume your attendance. Thus, I recommend only signing up to this course, if you are planning to attend at least the majority of the sessions. Thank you :-)!

    Here are some details on the evaluation methods:

    1. Pre-assignment (max. 5 points)

    Prior to the course, you are asked to hand in a short pre-assignment paper for me to get a grasp of your understanding of the theme of this course and your motivation to select this course. For completing this individual task at the beginning of the course, you are awarded 5 points.


    2. In-class contribution (max. 10 points)

    All of you are very welcome to actively participate in our in-class discussions! In fact, our in-class encounters are designed such that they encourage you to engage in and start discussions during the teaching sessions. The contributions you make during the teaching sessions are evaluated and they should demonstrate your understanding of the course content and/or advance our learning. If you do not feel comfortable to speak up during the teaching sessions, you can post your contribution to the course’s MyCourses website outside of the lecture hours. Please note for an excellent grade, it is not sufficient to only contribute online. You can score a maximum of 10 points for your active participation to the discussions.

    I consider it essential for our learning that we establish a respectful, tolerant, and open working atmosphere. Any questions (as long as they are appropriate) are welcome and anyone should feel comfortable to share their knowledge and experiences with us. To foster such an atmosphere, I expect all of us to treat each other respectfully, to listen to one another, and to tolerate others’ differing views. I also think that it is essential that you are present, when you are present and that you only use any the technological means relevant for the teaching session during our interaction. Thank you!


    3. Learning Diary (max. 45 points)

    Detailed instructions for the learning diary are available to registered students. The aim of the diary is to encourage you to reconstruct the lecture experience and to help you improve your learning process and behavior. You will keep the learning diary throughout the course and the different parts will be evaluated as the course progresses. The learning diary encourages you to critically reflect on your own learning experience and to get a better understanding of what type of learner you are. Ultimately, you should be able to understand what methods, tools, and techniques you should and should not use in your learning to gain the most out of the learning experience. In total, you can score a maximum of 45 points for your learning diary entries.


    4. Group work – Design Thinking Challenge (max. 40 points)

    The final 40% of the grade (i.e. 40 points) are made up of the group work. In this course, you and your team members (teams are selected randomly) will participate in a Design Challenge (during lecture sessions Nov 24&29). The Design Challenge consists of in-class group workshops. Based on these, the teams create brief pitches on their solutions and present them during the final session on Dec 1 (attendance mandatory). The groups are required to hand in a final written report on their work during the weeks after the course is finished (possible deadline Dec. 16). In the written report, the students should critically reflect on their work, demonstrate their understanding and justify the use of the approaches, methods, and techniques, acknowledge potential mistakes and point to different/more suitable methods, techniques.  


    Grading on the course

    You can earn max. 100 points, i.e. 100% of the grade. The points will be converted to the final grade as follows:

    Points (percentage)    Grade

    91 points and over      5

    80 to 90 points           4

    70 to 79 points           3

    60 to 69 points           2

    50 to 59 points           1

    49 points and under   Fail


    All assignments will be graded both on content and delivery; in oral assignments delivery refers to presentation skills and structure, in written assignments structuring, coherence, and appropriate style.

  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    • contact teaching
    • independent work
    • individual and group assignments

  • applies in this implementation

    6 ECTS represent approximately 160 hours of student workload. The table gives you an estimate of how much time you should spend on the different assignments and activities and how many points you can receive for them. You will earn the points through completing individual and group assignments, and in-class participation.

    Activity/ Assignment

    Working  Hours

    Points through Group work

    Points through Individual work

    Points in %



    Independent working hours


    Individual Pre-Ass. 1




    In-Class contribution



    Learning Diary




    Design Thinking challenge










Study Material
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    A collection of articles and book chapters assigned by the lecturer

  • applies in this implementation

    Our main means of interaction are teaching sessions, MyCourses, and Zoom. All relevant course materials (optional and mandatory readings, video materials) are provided on MyCourses and/or during teaching sessions. On MyCourses, course materials are listed under the sessions that they are relevant for. Guest lectures will be held via Zoom (links to the zoom sessions can be found on the course’s MyCourses page).  As registered student you should check the MyCourses page regularly and make sure that you make yourself familiar with the relevant materials before the sessions. I will give instructions on how to prepare for the sessions also prior to our meetings. Be prepared that you may need to register to and/or download additional software (at no cost!). If needed, further information will be provided in time.

Substitutes for Courses
SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    3 Good Health and Well-being

    9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

    12 Responsible Production and Consumption

    17 Partnerships for the Goals


Further Information
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Teaching Language : English

    Teaching Period :

    2022-2023 Autumn II
    2023-2024 Autumn II

    Enrollment :

    The number of students admitted to the course is restricted to 50.

    Priority is given to (1) Aalto BSc Marketing students, (2) Aalto BIZ exchange students, (3) open university students, (4) JOO-students, (5) BIZ students

    Attendance at the last two sessions is mandatory. Students not attending will automatically fail the course.

Details on the schedule
  • applies in this implementation

    Oct 25:            Innovations – what they are, why we need them, and how to generate them

    Oct 27:            Empathizing

    Nov 1:             Ideating

    Nov 3:             Implementing Design Thinking (Matias Vaara, Vaara & Co)

    Nov 8:             Prototyping and Evaluating

    Nov 10:           Developing Problem Solutions in Teams (Petri Kallio, Rovio)

    Nov 15            Myssyfarmi - the success story of a Finnish start-up (Anna Rauhansuu, Myssyfarmi)

    Nov 17:           Innovating with Design Thinking and other approaches to Innovation (Anna Kalme, Adventure Club)

    Nov 22:           Intro Design Challenge

    Nov 24:           Groupwork Design Challenge Part 1

    Nov 29:           Groupwork Design Challenge Part 2

    Dec 1:              Pitches of Design Challenge Results