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I had the pleasure of teaching two segments of the Innovation and Design course at the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame this week.  The description of the one semester class is as follows: 

  • Innovation is about creating new ideas that have a positive impact. It requires thinking differently about the world around us. We’ll discuss the key principles and the innovation processes that lead to breakthroughs and the practices that make them work. We’ll learn about design and design thinking in ways that can be used to solve big problems in a human centered way.


The SAP lecture included three segments.  The first segment included a background on SAP, our company strategy and why innovation is so important to us.  The middle of the class focused on Design Thinking from a customer perspective and I led the student teams through an “Empathy Mapping” exercise which helps to define what a target persona is doing, thinking, seeing, feeling , hearing and saying.  The students are working on a design challenge from the Whirlpool Corporation this semester and I asked them to choose one target persona for analysis.  They then used notes in a structured diagram to get inside the persona for perspective on the project.  Some SAP customer design thinking examples were used to illustrate the concepts.

The final segment was an overview of SAP uses Design Thinking in our software development processes with an emphasis on the key principles that make Design Thinking work for us.  There are some excellent video examples of beautiful, customer focused SAP applications on YouTube that were shared to illustrate software design in action.  The students asked many good questions and most of them were impressed with the ways SAP has made Design Thinking an important problem solving process across the company.


Associate Professor Wendy Angst was my host for the course and provided a kind introduction.  Wendy is also working with me and SAP on some potential design collaborations as part of our larger SAP – ND Alliance Plan.