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Role of creativity in professional competences development

Why is creativity vital as a future work life competence? How might it foster business development and innovation? How can creativity be fostered as a meta-competence in curricula? This blog discusses creativity as one of the future work life competences integrated into curricula and with Service Design and real-life cases.


Liisa Wallenius

Senior Lecturer
Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

Niina Moilanen

Senior Lecturer
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 24.10.2023

Creativity is crucial when creating something new and developing existing practices. The learning process requires adopting latest information and increasing knowledge which are developed into skills and competences. Likewise, business development entails inspecting the present and the future, gaining latest information and creating innovative ideas to solve the problems or enhance the business.

Design thinking, Service Design and various types of Design Sprints offer swift innovative processes for developing, innovating, and planning services together with the users. The methods include both analytical and creative thinking which alter in the process. Design thinking entails also that experts of various fields are brought together to provide versatile views to the process.

Creativity in professional competences development

Creativity is one of the key competences in many courses of the new curriculum for Haaga-Helia bachelor education in tourism and hospitality. For instance, in “Experience Design Processes and Tools”, the students create solutions for real-life tasks and projects with help of design thinking and experience design. They have e.g., created ideas for new experiences and marketing material for companies in Northeast Uusimaa. The students have created prototypes of their ideas and tested them with their target customers.

LAB8 at Haaga-Helia defines Service Design as innovation, development and planning of services with design methods (Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences s.a.). The method highlights design thinking, analytical and creative thinking, and customer-centricity. The LAB8 view of service design follow the models of Standford Design school and Design Council. The Google Ventures Design Sprint, adopted on Sprints in Porvoo Campus, follows the same principles offering a way to solve genuine business problems in five days. The Sprints are often arranged in other than everyday settings of the participants and a mix of experts from different fields are brought in to contribute to the work.

How is creativity present in the design process? It is in the core of this customer-centric process and, also, the tools used involve creativity. The process starts with research and learning to know the customers. Once problems are defined, they are re-defined with help of customer understanding and ideation of solutions. Creativity is in the core of this type of innovation and problem solving.

The problem refining is followed by ideation in which different solutions are created, illustrated, described, and vetted in a team setting. Eventually the most interesting, innovative yet feasible ideas are taken further. Prototyping the best ideas, evaluating the prototypes and concept definitions all involve creativity.

Experiences from Creativity

Through Design Sprints on Porvoo Campus we want our students to learn 21st century skills, the so called 4Cs: collaboration, critical thinking and complex problem-solving, creativity, and communication (World Economic Forum 2020; Konttinen & Moilanen 2021). In the course feedback the students have mentioned that the use of creative methods made them think outside the box and leave their comfort zones.

The latest experiences discussed here are from Design Sprint intensive week of the Nordplus EkoTek project (2019–2023). The objective was to enhance intercultural competence and skills in service design. EkoTek Nordplus offered students opportunities to experience and participate in intensive programmes by the project network of universities and companies in the Nordic-Baltic region.

In April 2023, such an intensive program was offered at Haaga-Helia UAS, Porvoo with Hungry for Finland as the commissioner. The task of the students was to design food travel products for various regions of Finland. The teams comprised of students form Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, Latvian and Lithuanian students in the fields of business, hospitality, and engineering.

The sprint teams worked intensively during the week in Porvoo in a boot-camp like situation as they were lodging at a local hostel, and the programme included evening activities. All the teams worked hard, eagerly, using all the team expertise and utilizing the commissioner consultations.

The concepts created included ideas for local food travel products such as

  • Dish-Dash, Finnish food run: An event combining food, sports, and music in the Finnish forest.
  • Kainuu Experience: Summer and winter activities combining food, hiking, and nature experiences.
  • Hungry in Finland by Five little meatballs: Food app with maps, locations, table bookings, recommendations, reviews, and local food friends (foodie Tinder).
  • Turku Feast: Food fair with traditional Finnish tastes at a music festival to attract younger generations.

Overall, the design sprint process fosters creativity and boosts students’ competences. It is evident that teamwork helps students develop their competences and boosts their creativity. Noticing that all ideas count, everyone can contribute to creating something unique. We look forward to offering similar opportunities for our students to be creative in the future.


Konttinen, A. & Moilanen, N. 2021. Remote Design Sprint – A Case Study of Learning the 21st Century Skills Online. eSignals Research, 2, 1.

Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences s.a. LAB8 – Service Experience Laboratory.

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