1. August 7, 2014

    The d.school fellowship program helps restless experts grow creative and resilient organizations, to accelerate systems-level impact in their areas of expertise. We’re thrilled to announce the upcoming arrival of eight fellows for the 2014-15 academic year. The early- to mid-career leaders come from sectors including education, health care and product design. This year’s d.school fellows are: David Clifford, Yael Cohen Braun, Jae Rhim Lee, Susan Dix Lyons, Jason Mayden, Tim Shriver, Michael Tubbs and Sam Yen.

    d.school fellows 2014-2015

    The fellows design and scale their own projects by using the resources of the d.school, Stanford and the Silicon Valley community. They participate in an immersive experience during the academic year, which includes a residency period to learn design thinking and organization design, mixed with active periods in the field to prototype new ways of working.

    Here are the 2014-15 d.school fellows:
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  2. August 6, 2014
    #DTK12 Summit gathering

    Attendees gather in the Atrium at the d.school for the #DTK12 Curriculum Summit. (Emi Kolawole)

    We’re live-blogging the #DTK12 Summit here at the d.school! Hit the refresh button on your browser to see the latest updates!

    The d.school is host to a number of events throughout the year. Today and tomorrow the K12Lab Network is hosting the #DTK12 Curriculum Summit — a two-day gathering for educators here at the d.school.

    We’re following the event on Twitter via the hashtag #DTK12, and our own media curriculum designer, Seamus Harte (@seamusharte), is tracking the event, prototyping storytelling methods to capture the behind-the-scenes process. We also recommend following these accounts throughout the day: @K12Lab, @mpelochino, @kkrummeck and @SparkTruck.

    We’ll be posting his updates here on the whiteboard. In the meantime, to all of our attendees, have a wonderful conference, and welcome to the d.school!

    Day 2 update: Welcome back everyone! We hope you’re having a great day today. We wanted to highlight that we’ve announced our EDU fellows for the 2014-15 academic year! We’ve also seen some incredible insights from attendees floating over the hashtag. We’re pulling a few tweets and contributing some of our own.

    Now, without further ado, on to the activity of #DTK12 Summit: Day 2!

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  3. July 31, 2014

    The d.school is rife with stories of learning and insight. It can be difficult, however, to capture those stories as they happen (which is when the insights stand to be most rich). Often the story of design thinking is buried in process and lost when the story of the finished product is told. It also makes failure difficult for others to learn from, since even after-the-fact storytelling can leave out valuable pieces of information in the interest of putting a good spin on the process for the sake of those involved.

    An early sketch of the prototyped space. (Seamus Harte)

    An early sketch of the prototyped space. (Seamus Harte)

    One of the aspects of the design thinking we’d like to focus on more broadly in the coming year is the capture of stories in process. So, a way of outlining the challenge could be: How might we seamlessly integrate storytelling into an innovator’s process? I largely worked alone on this question at a time when I was trying to ascertain what design thinking actually is. Even then, I wasn’t entirely clear on the design challenge in front of me in terms of helping the d.school fellows tell their stories.

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  4. July 30, 2014
    One of the hallways at Logan International Airport in the wee hours of the morning. (Emi Kolawole)

    One of the hallways at Logan International Airport in the wee hours of the morning. (Emi Kolawole)

    Knowledge of human-centered design can prove helpful at the most unexpected times.

    That observation comes with a story. I am writing this from the lobby of a very nice hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. I have no room booked in this hotel. In fact, I have no room booked anywhere. My flight, which was rescheduled due to a connection failure between Philadelphia and San Francisco, is not scheduled until around 5 a.m. the next day. The next day arrived six minutes ago.

    I know this feeling, I thought before starting to write. This is how you feel at the d.school sometimes. I was entirely uncomfortable.

    Then, much like a reflex, everything I had learned kicked in. I began to see my situation as an opportunity for a change in mindset and immersion. What would it be like to be a truly stranded passenger? What would I do? Where would I go, and what would I hope to find?

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  5. July 24, 2014

    One of my newly-discovered passions is looking for ways to bring greater empathy into the media world. I was fortunate enough to make it to the first SRCCON  (“source-con”) here in Philadelphia this week. These are a few of the really interesting questions I encountered at the intersection of media and human-centered design: 

    •  What if, instead of assuming your users aren’t smart enough for your design, you assume your design should be changed to meet their needs.
    •  How might we pivot from “what do we want to give readers” to “what do readers need from us”?
    •  If you had $2 million, how would you design a news business with the ability to scale and with a realistic budget that takes space rental, hardware and compensation for highly sought-after talent into account?

    There was an entire panel dedicated to human-centered design this afternoon, and the way it was applied to the creation of censusreporter.org. That was followed by a discussion with media experts from a variety of different sub-domain areas around the challenges to empathy work and human-centered design. The project started with the following questions:

    • Who are your users?
    • What do they need?
    • What could we build?

    If you’re familiar with the design thinking process, these should look pretty familiar, since they establish the user as the most important element in the process. Now, when thinking about applying this in newsrooms. Here were some of the challenges I heard from participants: 
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  6. July 22, 2014
    (Anne Gibbon)

    (Anne Gibbon)

    I thought the high of being a d.school fellow would continue forever. The d.school is so much fun. How could one not retain its energy, color, and creative fuel permanently and effortlessly? The fact is, holding on to all of that takes effort.

    It can be such an emotional downer to finish some of my days at the d.school now that I have finished the program. Yet I still choose to show up here every morning, because I just don’t want to leave, and the place brings me so much joy.

    Thankfully, the d.school has no strict policy for kicking its fellows out. So, I just keep showing up and fill whiteboards with ideas around my project work. In fact, graduation felt more like an interruption to my workflow.  Now, in its wake, my project is taking off and I’m busier than ever.  Well, the truth is that all of my projects — plural — are taking off.  The number of projects I have in the works at any given moment depends on how you group them and what kind of thematic lines you draw down my to-do list.

    The d.school, the people, the work – they are like ambrosia to me. Yet I’m caught in a paradox: I have no complaints — none; I have the dream job, and yet I cannot help but feel this very real emotional letdown when I leave at the end of the day. Continue Reading

  7. July 21, 2014

    What comes to mind when you think of the tractor? A modern marvel? A gift to the food system?

    This interview with Matt Rothe may change your mind. Matt grew up on a farm, and went on to get his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and become a d.school fellow (2012-2013). Prior to that, he served as director of operations at Niman Ranch and led the Sustainable Food Program for Stanford Dining. He is also the co-founder of the FEED Collaborative at Stanford — a network dedicated to addressing and solving the biggest challenges in the food system.

    Incoming d.school teaching fellow, Erik Olesund, interviewed Matt, producing this story. The piece illustrates how, in fact, the tractor may be responsible for ruining farming by weaving the story of Matt’s life, including the sale of his family’s farm, with a history of agriculture. The radio program was published by Green Grid Radio, aired on KZSU 90.1 FM and was published on PRX.

    Disclosure: While I may get a nod at the end of this program, congratulations goes to Erik for his remarkable work and dedication to this story.


  8. July 17, 2014

    Our colleague, d.school teaching fellow Ashish Goel, has a piece on Medium analyzing Christopher Alexander’s ‘Notes on the Synthesis of Form’, drawing comparisons between Alexander’s work and design thinking as taught at the d.school.

    The piece, published on Thursday, is a wonderful tour through the design thinking process and Alexander’s work. Ashish also introduces new visualizations of the design thinking process in combination with Alexander’s design process:

    (Ashish Goel)

    Visualizations of Alexander’s work combined with Christopher Alexander’s process. Click on the image to see a larger version. (Ashish Goel)

    READ: ‘Good design is making a ‘misfit-free ensemble’ on Medium.

  9. July 17, 2014


    A notebook used in the class taught by Kathryn and Jeremy. (Emi Kolawole)

    A notebook used in the class taught by Kathryn and Jeremy. (Emi Kolawole)

    Authenticity is one of the most important elements of my teaching toolkit I think.” – Jeremy Utley

    Being genuine in front of a crowd doesn’t come easily to everyone. There are legitimate fears associated with being fully open with a group of people. There’s the risk of making an embarrassing mistake. Then there’s the fear of being recorded and having what you say placed on a permanent record of some kind. Ever-present smartphones and social media make staying off the record almost impossible in groups.

    So, it’s understandable that when given the opportunity to speak in front of a group of people, rather than speak from the heart, we read from a script.

    A recent experience showed me, however, that when it comes to teaching empathy — to say nothing of teaching overall – it pays to be genuine. Continue Reading

  10. July 13, 2014


    Outside the d.school -- a wonderful place for heads-down work when you're alone. (Emi Kolawole)

    Outside the d.school I undertake work  (Emi Kolawole)

    Update: Thank you to everyone who joined us for a robust and productive discussion on sparking summer collaborations. We hope this was an informative and engaging conversation. We touched on everything from how best to share ideas quickly to emergent leadership. Here is the transcript via Storify:

    The summer heat provides ample excuse to ratchet down — everything from the pace at which you work to the nature of what you work on.

    I came across this column from Cindy Krischer Goodman in the Miami Herald. In it she described ways individuals and organizations are trying to make the most of the summer slow-down. While some managers are using the time for vacation, others she writes, “are using the seasonal slowdown to improve teamwork and collaboration.”

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