Hillen, V., & Lévy, P. (2013). People, Place, Process: Lessons Learnt on the Path to a d.school. the Proceedings of International Conference on Engineering Design 2013, ICED13 ([on CD]). Seoul, Korea: The Design Society.
Since 2006, Design Thinking education programs for master-level students have been developed at Ponts ParisTech, a leading French engineering school. This paper presents a longitudinal study of the creation and dissemination of Design Thinking (DT) as a discipline to educate top-level French students for innovation. From 2006 to 2012, 53 projects were carried out by a total of 224 students. A review is made of the instructional design of those DT projects, from local experiments through the creation of a d.school supported by the French Ministry of Education and Research to the dissemination of DT nationally. From this, key lessons are drawn for faculty members wanting to set up and disseminate DT in their own university. The paper advocates that a DT professor becomes a staging director who should consider three elements – people, place, and process – in order to create “the right conditions for students to innovate” (Leifer, Stanford). A faculty member’s task thus defines itself as the art of creating the best conditions for driving students’ journeys of exploration within a specific context, and represents a transformative and learning adventure.