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SAP founder gives $35 million for Stanford D-School

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 3, 2005

Corporations on the hunt for more innovative, creative managers and employees should check this out—Hasso Plattner, co-founder of the business process software giant SAP, is donating $35 million to fund a new design school at Stanford. It will be housed in the Stanford School of Engineering and be called—what else?—the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. This is a big step in the evolution of design from form and style toward thinking and strategy. Plattner deserves tremendous credit.

David Kelley, Stanford engineering professor and co-founder of IDEO,is one of a small number of design academics who are working on new courses, case studies and other curriculae that take design’s methodologies and people-focus to a higher level, making it much more valuable to industry and society as a whole. Roger Martin, dean at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto and Patrick Whitney, head of the Illinois Institute of Design, are part of that conservation.

Stanford’s D-School will teach innovation by bringing students from engineering, social sciences, education and design together to form collaborative teams that solve problems. It will teach innovation as a process, not as magic or as a simple creative spark. It will teach design methodology as a way of thinking.

The idea for a new D-School came out of a “manifesto” written on a napkin at a Peet’s coffee house some time back, according to Diego Rodriquez, who was there. The Stanford Institute_manifesto.jpg
handwriting belongs to George Kembel, who is the Executive Director of the Institute.

There is a vast migration going on in Corporate America today as companies seek to hire more innovation-champions, design thinkers, and researchers who know how to get close to customers. Six-Sigma types are in far less demand. But where to find this kind of new talent is a huge issue for CEOs. The Stanford D-school will be a major new school for companies to train their execs and educate a new crop of MBAs. The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design will start out as a certificate program, with enrolling business, education, design and other students getting their degrees in their own disciplines. A Stanford B-school graduate will come away with greater skills in innovation and design than comparable B-schools. As the U.S. moves toward a Creative Economy and companies strive to become more innovative, the new Stanford D-School may prove to be a major training ground for future managers. Good going Hasso!

Reader Comments


October 4, 2005 2:50 PM

design, dear bruce, in its beginnings had never been about form and style and much more about thinking and strategy, if you want to say so.

so the signs we can see here are by no means signs of a tremendous evolution. no. this here looks more like a home coming.

read your bauhaus lessons once again. and forget about all that foggy marketing talk that happened in the meantime.

School Teacher

November 23, 2005 2:48 PM

In some years they will be saying "Our success started with a napkin")

Felicia D.

November 5, 2008 10:56 PM

I found your blog while searching for info on Decor & designer antiques in Europe. I'm going on an antiquing tour that may be of interest to design students because it is a no frills inexpensive trip to the antiques markets at Arezzo in Italy, Swinderby & Newark in England and the paris flea markets in France. Check out this website: Felicia.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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