What is this?


George Kembel's "d.school Operator's Handbook" lies somewhere between a manual and manifesto.

It was created in 2007 as content for a strategy session at the then nascent d.school. Within its hand-drawn pages is an outline of the guiding principles behind the d.school philosophy and an early map of the workings of the organization.

George recalls the context and intent:

We had just moved out of the trailers and our teams were asking for clarity on the d.school strategy as we evolved in our earliest days. The handbook was my response. The intent was to enculturate a distributed, emergent & evolving strategy as opposed to a centrally dictated one (a philosophy that I believed to be true to encourage creative habitats). The handbook was an outline for those in the d.community to engage with and design a d.strategy that was both true for their context and coherent with the collective unfolding of the d.school.

Creative ecosystems like the d.school thrive when they are led collectively and guided in an emergent way. If done well, they can flourish in ways traditional systems often don’t – culturally, economically and scale of impact. This philosophy implies leading towards unknown outcomes as outcomes that create the greatest value and impact are not obvious in advance – if they are, it’s not innovation.

This handbook was created as a specific artifact to seed a kind of distributed creative agency across our community of teams.

The "d.school Operators Handbook" is a peek into our early history & thinking and as an example of how big ideas can start with broad sketches.

Feel free to download a scan and print and share with others. 

This content is protected under a Creative Commons 4.o Non-Commercial, Share Alike License. 


George Kembel is a d.school founder who currently runs dglobal.org a non-profit with the mission of unlocking the creative potential of people all over the world.