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Stanford Magazine Story on the d.School: David Kelley as Founder, Jedi Master, and Cover Boy

The new Stanford Magazine just arrived and it has a fantastic story about the called "Sparks Fly" and a nice sidebar on the efforts by Rich Crandall and others to teach design thinking in schools via their K-12 initiative. I am biased as I have been involved with IDEO (which David also founded) for over 15 years and with the from the start. As I wrote in a recent post about David's 60th birthday, he has had a huge effect on many people's lives and, I would argue, on bringing an engineering inspired (but appropriately flexible) perspective to problems as diverse as designing better radio shows, to improving company meetings, to launching new companies, to developing a cheap and portable alternative to incubators for premature babies in third world countries.

I especially liked how the magazine called David a "Jedi Master" as he has a rather magical and weird ability to mentor people, to give them strange and useful advice (like his reaction to my complaint that the was out of control, when he advised that creativity was a messy process and would never be clean and pretty), to take time to give personal advice and help friends (David and his brother Tom Kelley played a big role in helping me make my decision last year to have surgery at the Cleveland Clinic rather than Stanford), to providing a perspective on leadership as striking a balance between love and money (perspective consistent with a lot of research, but stated oh so much better), to doing things that are just plain fun from giving me a singing fish to telling absurd and usually self-deprecating stories. David is the rare leader who doesn't just talk about empathy, he has it in spades.

Reprinted from Work Matters

Robert I. Sutton, PhD is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. His latest book is Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best...and Survive the Worst. His previous book is The New York Times bestseller The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't. Follow him at