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Visual Prototyping

Course code
EAI617, EAI621
Course type
MSc Course
Weekly Hours
FS 2021
Prof. Dr. Christoph Hienerth
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

In this course we develop your skills for visual thinking and visual prototyping.

The course is partitioned into two major parts:

1) Knowledge and application of basic visualization skills.

You will learn all the basic skills and tools it takes to generate simple visualizations, both physical as well as electronically (using the program “Concepts”).

2) Knowledge and application of visual tools and applications in business for building fast prototypes.

You will learn the underlying logic and background for using fast visualizations in business. This includes an understanding of the setting, the psychology of the audience the choice of visualization and specific visual tools for the business setting.

Date Time
Wednesday, 10.03.2021 13:45 - 17:00
Monday, 15.03.2021 11:30 - 15:15
Monday, 22.03.2021 08:00 - 11:15
Thursday, 08.04.2021 11:30 - 15:15
Monday, 12.04.2021 11:30 - 15:15
Thursday, 15.04.2021 11:30 - 15:15
Monday, 19.04.2021 11:30 - 15:15
Wednesday, 21.04.2021 13:45 - 15:15
Relating to MiE objective 1.1. Students will master the collection and analysis of diverse sets of information relevant for their entrepreneurial endeavors:

Students will master the transfer of business information into visual represenations.

Relating to MiE objective 1.2. Students will be capable of developing promising novel business ideas and business models:

Students will master the creative and visual aspects of generating novel business models, relating to the use of appropriate visual tools.

Relating to MiE objective 1.4. Students will be experts in scaling new business (i.e. mastering the operative setup of new business):

Students will exercise and apply and thereby gain expertise in visual tools to represent the growth of new business.

Relating to MiE objective 1.5. Students will be experienced in building and maintaining strong teams and partnerships:

Through joint and concrete development of prototyping students will experience team work and team building in a very applied and business-like setting.

Elementary skills in sketching and visualizing:Betty Edwards, 2013. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. TarcherPerigee.Bert Dodson, 1990. Keys to Drawing. North Light Books.Mike Rohde, 2012. The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Notetaking. Peach Pit.Visual skills in the business setting:Dan Roam, 2012. The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures. Marshall Cavendish Business.Dan Roam, 2014. Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations, Dan Roam (2014). Portfolio Penguin.Martin Haussmann, 2017. UZMO. Thinking with your pen. Redline.Visual Information, Infographics:David McCandless, 2012. Information is beautiful. Harper Collins Publishing UK.David McCandless, 2014. Knowledge is beautiful. Harper Collins Publishing UK.Gareth Cook, 2014. The Best American Infographics 2014. Mariner Books.Gareth Cook, 2013. The Best American Infographics 2013. Mariner Books.Edward R. Tufte, 2006. Beautiful evidence. Graphics Press.Dona M. Wong, 2013. The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Dont’s of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures. W W Norton & Co.Scott Berinato, 2016. Good charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations. Harvard Business Review Press.Nancy Duarte, 2008. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. O’Reilly and Associates.Visuals and classic business development: Alexander Osterwalder, 2010. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. Wiley.Michael Lewrick, 2018. The Design Thinking Playbook: Mindful Digital Transformation of Teams, Products, Services, Businesses and Ecosystems. Wiley.Marc Stockdorn, Markus Hormess, Adam Lawrence, Jakob Schneider, 2017. This is Service Design Doing: Using Research and Customer Journey Maps to Create Successful Services. O’Reilly UK Ltd.Patrick van der Pijl, 2016. Design a Better Business: New Tools, Skills, and Mindset for Strategy and Innovation. Wiley.Marc Sniukas, Parker Lee, Matt Morasky, 2016. The Art of Opportunity: How to Build Growth and Ventures Through Strategic Innovation and Visual Thinking. Wiley.A full range of books for basic visual skills and visual thinking in the business setting will be provided in class.
  • Lectures (full day basic skill workshop, full day business visual workshop)
  • Class discussions (discussion of current tools and applications of tools)
  • Individual mastery projects (including the coaching of individual students for their work)
  • Electronic components available via YouTube channels
The examination consists of individual “mastery projects”, each described in a short, one-page document, in which you describe your rational and approach for each respective mastery project:

Mastery project 1: Database of Business Icons (10%)

You develop a personal database consisting of 20 business icons for your individual use.


  • The field of application for those business icons (e.g. new business development).
  • The specific icon and its meaning.
  • The reasoning for the selection of individual icons and the portfolio.

Mastery project 2: Database of Business Structures (10%)

You develop three personal structures for a) a sketchbook page and b) a flipchart or whiteboard page.

These structures must enable you to perform visual thinking in a specific context in a fast and efficient way.


  • The setting in which the structure is used.
  • The logic why the specific structure makes sense in a certain way.

Mastery project 3: Sketchnote (20%)

You develop a sketchnote for an important talk found on the internet (e.g. TedX talks). The sketchnote has an A3 Format and covers elements of structure, content and visuals. It provides the reader with a simple way to understand the talk.


  • Reason for structure.
  • Reason for specific choice of content.
  • Reason for specific choice of visuals.

Mastery project 4: Persona or Prototype Features (15%)

You develop a visual prototype for the description of a specific segment, called “persona” or for a specific prototype.

You specify and describe:

  • The content to be included in the description of the segment or prototype.
  • The structure and visual representation of the overall appearance and components of the prototype.

Mastery project 5: Business Tool (25%)

You develop a novel business-related visual prototyping tool that allows the user to perform business processes in a simple and efficient way. A well-known example for such a tool is the business model canvas, a landscape, one-page visual prototype that allows for fast business model prototyping.

You specify and describe:

  • The goal/ambition with the tool.
  • The components and their specific functions/contributions.
  • How to work with the tool in concrete business settings.

Mastery project 6: Wireframe Tool (20%)

You develop a visual prototype that helps/assists founders to conceptualize webpages/landing pages and allows for a simple and fast setup of hypothesizing and testing.

You specify and describe:

  • The overall functioning and use of the prototype.
  • How it enables and facilitates hypothesizing and testing.

Grading Criteria:

  • Underlying reasoning and logic of the visualization (each mastery project needs one page of reasoning/explanation; i.e. what you specify)
  • Quality of the visualization (both physical and electronic)
  • Use and expertise of visualization skills and tools from the course
  • Novelty and innovativeness of the tool
  • Relevance of the tool
  • Fit of the visualization and the goal/outcome
  • Application quality of the visualization (user friendliness)
Basic understanding of entrepreneurial tools and approaches
150 study hours
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