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Dr Nick de Leon, delivering an RCA Executive Education course

Custom Executive Education to deliver The Hertfordshire Service Innovation Programme, to enable local Hertfordshire businesses to create and capture enhanced value from their products and services.


The Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) invited Estu and Royal College of Art Executive Education to design and deliver The Hertfordshire Service Innovation Programme, to enable local Hertfordshire businesses to create and capture enhanced value from their products and services. The programme, which ran during the first three months of 2022, included Foundation and Practitioner level cohorts.

Key benefits:

  • Access to global best practice in design thinking and service design from the RCA
  • Small group tutorials with expert RCA practitioners
  • Powerful commercial connections and networking with peers
  • Support to develop and implement project plans developed on the programme
  • Learnt how to apply customer centric service design principles to their business

Pedro Tolipan, Head of McKinsey Design, Rikesh Shah, Head of Commercial Innovation at Transport for London, and Yao Yingjia, Design Chief at Lenovo, were among the industry leaders to share insights with Hertfordshire businesses.

Key learnings include the importance of process, the centrality of customer needs, and the need for critical thinking. From the practitioner level course, a total of £1.15 million of private investment is expected to be leveraged along with the creation of 55 jobs.

“Participants enjoyed the mixed modality, and particularly the range of guest speakers allowing them to connect knowledge to real life situations and learn through shared experience.”

Simon Littlewood CEO, Estu Global Ltd

Course structure

Learning took place online, with live weekly sessions supplemented by a rich virtual learning environment and resources.

At the heart of the Service Innovation Programme was the opportunity to apply their learning to develop a specific identified area of their business or market opportunity, and benefited from executive training covering the theory and application of design thinking and business model innovation that would lead to better customer experience, successful innovation and improved business value. Participants worked on a challenge brief in teams.


Every business submitting post-course feedback said they would recommend the programme to a friend in business for reasons including the quality of speakers, lecturers, tutors and mentors, tools and models, the combination of theory and practical learning, use of real-life examples and seamless use of technology for learning.

“Rarely does a course surpass all expectations, this one did. Brilliant.”

Linda Hausmanis CEO, Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management

“The service innovation course was fantastic and covered a great deal in a very short time that not only helped understand the theory but how to apply the learning in my organisation. Fantastic course and I would strongly recommend it.”

Richard Cooksey JPA Workspaces

“This is an excellent course, which I highly recommend to all business owners and people responsible for customer service. I now have a toolkit of ideas and techniques which I can apply right now to improve how we help our clients and our new product and service development to ensure what we develop meets real customer needs…This course has given me the confidence to grow and innovate with a model to ensure are always thinking about what is important to our customers.”

Louise Towler Indigo Tree Digital Limited

“I loved this course from beginning to end. As a brand strategist it gave me a new perspective on the route to market, new ways to work with my clients and new ways to think about my own business. I will be taking my learnings to my team and taking them through the work so we can apply innovation to the way we work.”

Anna Peck Creative Director, Midnight Blue Marketing

“Highly recommended! A fantastic mix of lectures, presentations, theory and practical with experts leading the charge. The resources made available are of such quality, we are already making plans to review these as a business to further strengthen and develop our service proposition for our valued clients.”

Laura Wheatley Infusion Group Ltd

Key details


More information

Foundation level, 4 modules over 2 weeks

Module 1: Introduction to Service Innovation and its impact

Module 2: Discovery: define a challenge and opportunity

Module 3: Definition and Design

Module 4: Concept Delivery and Measuring Success

Practitioner level, 10 modules over 5 weeks

Module 1: New Models of Innovation

Module 2: Transforming the customer value for the “new normal”

Module 3: Digital Transformation and Data enabled Innovation

Module 4: Creative Workshop

Module 5: Business Model Innovation and creating a compelling value proposition

Module 6: Tutorial: Creating an integrated service proposition and business model

Module 7: Your business as a platform and creating an innovation platform

Module 8: Translating your new service proposition into an investable business plan

Module 9: Tutorial: Putting it all together to deliver an integrated value proposition

Module 10: The Grande Finale

Practitioner Level Course Leader:

Dr Nick de Leon, Executive Education Lead, School of Design and Founder of the Service Design MA Programme at the RCA

Foundation Level Course Leaders:

Dr Nicolás Rebolledo, Tutor Service Design MA and Clive Grinyer, Head of Programme, Service Design MA.

Invited industry speakers:

  • Rikesh Shah, Head of Commercial Innovation at Transport for London
  • Pedro Tolipan, Expert Associate Partner, McKinsey
  • Yao Yingjia, Chief Designer from Lenovo

RCA guest tutors:

Graduate facilitators:

  • Linda Mutunga, Graduate Service Design MA
  • Sarah Elizabeth Morse, Graduate Service Design MA
  • Ai Nakada, Graduate Information Experience Design MA
  • Gertrude Gibbons, Writing MA

Hertfordshire County Council funded a pilot for 70 businesses in Hertfordshire to participate in the Service Innovation programme and follow up coaching.

The courses are part of the LEP’s Enterprise and Innovation Strategy, aimed at providing the 60,000 businesses based in Hertfordshire with the opportunity to generate high value and ‘additional’ growth to compete internationally as well as nationally.

Nitin Dahad, Hertfordshire LEP Board Member and Chair Enterprise and Innovation Board, said: “As Hertfordshire moves out of the acute recovery phase from COVID, supporting our high-growth businesses will be key to future economic activity and productivity. The LEP’s Enterprise and Innovation Strategy focuses on the breadth of enterprise and innovation across 60,000 businesses, offering particular opportunities for high value and ‘additional’ growth which will equip Hertfordshire to compete internationally as well as nationally. This programme is a prime example of that innovative approach being developed by the LEP in partnership with prestigious organisations.”

Norman Jennings, Operations Director, Hertfordshire LEP, said: “I am really excited to bring this executive programme to Hertfordshire and further bolster the excellent business support provision in the county. Innovation and adaptability is key if businesses are to remain competitive in this ever-changing world. This programme is in direct response to businesses seeking tailored, high quality support which, in turn, will create a huge uptick in the local economy.

Simon Littlewood, CEO of Estu Global Ltd, said: “This pioneering programme will give businesses across the county access to world-class commercial and strategic design skills at the highest level and supplement the strong local business support offer already available. Thanks to the calibre of the organisations involved, Hertfordshire business leaders will, for the first time, be able tap into specialist support and innovative practices which have already been successfully applied to companies across the globe.”

Custom Executive Education Masterclasses and Workshops

Through our portfolio of innovation masterclasses and workshops, the RCA provides senior-level professionals and business leaders with critical business skills. We deliver courses for businesses, organisations and universities on design thinking, service design, creative leadership, disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, human-centred design, artificial Intelligence and healthcare design.

We can tailor the curriculum for a day, a week, or several weeks over the course of a year with interrelated projects. Courses can be delivered online, on-campus, hybrid or at partner organisations. Previous courses have been delivered in Dubai, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Germany and Mexico.

Find out more here.

Please get in contact with us if you would like to discuss developing a custom programme:

Contact us

Get in touch to find out how we can help your business or organisation succeed.

Email us at
[email protected]
Executive Education Team

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