Course for Change Agents (facilitating organisational change)

Change agents and change leaders are in fashion. Large and small organisations are craving for experts who can envision the digital future, and importantly, who can implement actual change — the midwives of digital transformation.

Registration opens Monday 25th of March! Be there or b^2.

Starting on April 25th I run a course (CS-E5000 Seminar in Software and Service Engineering: Facilitating Lean) that turns all the abstract talk about “organisational change”, “agile culture” and “digital transformation” and “new ways of working” into concrete practice.

The course provides answers to questions such as:

So what does an actual change agent do?

What is in a change agent’s toolkit?

How does she develop her meta-skills and learn?

This course is for you if you find yourself facilitating, convincing, teaching, leading, and helping others to think, behave, and see things differently. In other words, your job is to facilitate others to embrace a new approach to creating products, services, innovation or business.

And the new approach is often a blend of, e.g., design thinking, agile working, a lean startup approach, a data analytics mindset, a more service-oriented perspective, or cross-disciplinary co-creation.

For example, typically a service designer in a large organisation has to convince others and shape organisational structures to be able to create concrete results. So it is not enough to be a good at your own “deep skill”. One has to be an organisational facilitator as well. The same applies for scrum masters, product owners, and business owners who need to change their surroundings to succeed.

What is the approach?

I’ve had the privilege to participate in over dozen organisational transformation programs in large companies. Also, together with my colleagues at Futurice we created the Lean Service Creation toolset and the consulting business around it. And in the past years I have probably trained over thousand professionals, students, leaders, managers etc. about successful design/agile/lean work.

This has all been quite an education into what is required to be “a midwife of digital transformation.”

Therefore, the approach in this course is very practical and based on hands-on experiences in a variety of domains (from the finance sector to marine industries and from design agencies to strategy consulting). However, at the end of the course I will tie all this to the broader context of meta-skills and studies & research on the future of work.

During the course we will go over topics such as

  • What is the groundwork required to ensure success in the larger business context? How to do it in practice?
  • How does organisational transformation look from the perspective of top management? How does it look like for the grassroots change agent?
  • How to plan, facilitate and run sprints & workshops, your key methods for change?
  • How to use design & business tools in innovation to drive organisational change? That is, how to use all these different canvases (business model canvas, lean canvas, the whole Lean Service Creation set)?
  • What are the “meta skills” required for future work in general? How to identify own strengths and weaknesses in facilitation and change agency?

Course facts

The course is on Thursdays from 16:00–18:00 at Aalto university, Otaniemi (lecture room TBA). We have five lectures and weekly homework (done in pairs of student + professional).

The lecture dates are 25.4., 2.5., 9.5., 16.5., 23.5. and there is a final assignment (done individually). The lecture room is U9, Otakaari 1, Otaniemi.

The course is 3 credits, but the final assignment can be extended if you want to have 5 credits.

This is the second time I run the course. Last year it was awarded as one of the best courses in the Computer Science department based on student feedback. This is definitely a master’s level course as I am assuming all participants have work experience as a designer, engineer, developer, analyst, product manager, or similar.

How to register to the course?

In addition to Aalto students, I’m opening the course to alumni and other professionals who do not have an official student status. I will take 20 participants to the course altogether, ideally half are students and half are professionals. Like mentioned above, the pair work is done so that one is an Aalto student and one is not.

Aalto students

You register to the course via WebOodi, as usual. The registering opens on Monday 08:00, 25th of March, and closed on April 10th (if you still want to register, email me). If for some reason I need to limit the number of students, then the order of registering is taken into account. The lectures are obligatory and as homework is pair work you must agree to follow the weekly deadlines and assignments.

NOTE! To take this course you must have done a design project course, such as SCI project course, User-centred methods for product and service design, Digital Service Design, or similar.


Please register via this web form (opens on March 25th, 08:00, and ended on April 10th). If you still want to participate, email me.

You can register either as an “active participant”, i.e., you commit to taking part in every lecture, doing all the homework, you have the option to do extra work for extra credits, and you need pay a participation fee of 45€ (see below).

Or you can register as a “tourist participant”, i.e., you come and go as you please, you won’t take part in the homework, and you will not get any credits.

Disclaimer: I hold the right to limit the number of non-students as I see best :) This is the first time I experiment with opening a course to the public, so bear with me.

Once you are accepted as an “active participant” to the course you will get one form to fill out to apply for a formal right to take the course. As a bonus you will actually get a formal Aalto University credits from the course which you can use if you end up doing a university degree. The formal status also costs you 15€/credit, i.e., 45€.

NOTE! To take this course you should be familiar with design tools, user-centric thinking, and innovation work in general. I am assuming that all participants know the basics of service design.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at risto.sarvas(ät)



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