Siirry sisältöön
Design sprint goes China – Sprinting for competences!

During the past two years, we have been introducing Design Sprint as a method to hundreds of Porvoo campus students as well as to around one hundred students at a university in China. Now we want to share some of the highlights of learning the future skills with the Chinese students.


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Niina Moilanen

Senior Lecturer
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 07.03.2023

Communication, collaboration, creativity and complex problem-solving are often called the 21st century skills, enabling continuous learning, resilience to change and thriving in the future of work. These skills will also ensure that humans survive the competition with AI-powered robots and other machines (World Economic Forum 2020). In our previous studies we have found out that they can be cultivated with the Design Sprint method (Konttinen & Moilanen 2021; 2022).

Communication and collaboration

The Chinese students saw communication as the most important skill to learn for the future of work. They felt that their English communication skills improved during the sprint. As the sprint advanced, the students were able to convey their ideas better to their peers and teachers.

In China, the role of team leaders is strong, and they were the ones who communicated with teachers. As the sprint progressed, others opened up, too. Profile pictures emerged and cameras were on in Zoom. In the end, we were happy that all team members were able to present their solutions to the commissioner, with their cameras on.

The students commented that collaboration and problem-solving as a team developed as well. They felt that they had become better at generating new and creative ideas through combining everyone’s ideas. Common goals helped. Also, they stressed the importance of a cooperative atmosphere and the clear roles and responsibilities required in the sprint. Team leaders learnt to coordinate the relationships in the team, allocate tasks and motivate other team members.

I have fully felt the charm of teamwork…In the future, I think I can also use this method.

The whole process requires team cohesion and division of labor to drive the process. Each person dividing the work to share ideas and then voting can be very efficient in solving problems.

Creativity and complex problem-solving

Creativity and problem-solving were practised extensively in the sprint. Challenges were encountered due to the Great Firewall of China which did not allow using many of the digital tools that we use in Finland, e.g., Flinga, Miro or Flip. However, the students were able to practise problem-solving in action as they had to look for similar tools available in China.

Both the sprint method and its tools helped the students to be creative and to visualise ideas. The solutions the students came up with, e.g., using Minecraft for marketing, were imaginative and rather different to the ones suggested by the students in Finland.

I came up with eight ideas in a short time, which is crazy. When I drew it out and explained it, I fell in love with this brainstorming session.

I really like this way of teaching combined with practice. The practical process can stimulate students’ thinking. When we complete the whole design process, we will feel meaningful and proud.

I learned to think about problems and then solve them better… visually presenting what you want to do stimulated people’s imagination and got everyone involved in imagining and creating. These two points impressed me because I had not been exposed to them before.

In conclusion, based on the feedback, the Chinese students learnt future skills and competences like their Finnish counterparts. They were able to express their learning in writing, too.


Konttinen A. & Moilanen N. 2021. Remote Design Sprint – A Case Study of Learning the 21st Century Skills Online. eSignals Research, Haaga-Helia.

Konttinen A. & Moilanen N. 2022. Design Sprint Goes China – a case study of competences and cultural lessons learnt in a remote sprint with Chinese students. 30th Nordic symposium on tourism and hospitality research. Book of abstracts. Haaga-Helia.

World Economic Forum 2020. The Future of Jobs Report 2020 – World Economic Forum.