Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Jochen Guertler

d.confestival 2012: Designing. Thinking. Socializing.

3 days full with questions around “what the hell is design thinking?” – what could this be? Yep you are right, I mean the d.confestival, the first “global” design thinking conference in Potsdam. Some (of course also visual) answers from there you can find in the following (by the way: these nice boxes where organized and created by a creative team around “Harry”):

Bildschirmfoto 2012-09-23 um 10.41.55.png

I had the pleasure to be there both in my role as SAP design thinker and as teacher at the, the school of design thinking in Potsdam. Together with my colleauge Tobias Hildenbrand we talked about the combination of lean management and design thinking. And Tobias showed again his remarkable live drawing skills.

Bildschirmfoto 2012-09-23 um 15.36.52.png

And although this was a “global” event (with a from my point of view cool mixture of people and opinions) it was also somehow a “SAP” conference as “SAP was everywhere”. The d.notes (the key notes) brought Hasso and Jim on the main stage in the circus tent, the central place during the d.confestival. The d.expo (some kind of exhibition hall) was full of SAP related topics and people and the d.lectures where also full of SAP topics. Therefore it is clear now to everybody: SAP is doing design thinking. Lets do our best that we do not concentrate only on “quantity” but also on “quality” in this area to ensure a sustainable integration of design thinking into the SAP in the end.


It was about designing. And who could talk about this better than a real designer and even artist? And Oliviero Toscani is for sure both – no surprise that his d.note at the end of day II was one of the absolut highlights. And he asked himself and the audience very direct and full of energy why somebody should “think” design? Because design is about doing. And not talking or thinking. It was obvious that he is not part of the “design thinking is great” community and therefore it was even more inspiring to listen him and to see how he acts in the circus tent. Like an artist!

And I really like his answer to one question from the audience about his “biggest failure” in his life or work. Because from his point of view all his work is a big failure as for him any idea you have in mind could be only a big compromise as soon as you start realizing it. This is the prize a real artist has to pay.

Last but not least: I like his red glasses 😉

Bildschirmfoto 2012-09-23 um 15.23.48.png

And it was about thinking. And not this kind of thinking which stops us from DOING it –  the next idea – the innovation – the life.

But this kind of thinking about what is perhaps even more important as all this “let´s build a business and get rich” stuff. For me personally Bernie Roth talk about the question whether design thinking’s changed his life was really, really inspiring. And also surprising as he did not talk about innovation or any business related topic but purely about a new way to work and interact with others – in the team, the company, with everybody. And how to grow and learn every day and not to give up in doing this. Because everyday is a new day and the chance and the responsibility to start again and doing it differently. Very inspiring and a big LIKE that he also mentioned the Esalen institute – one more reason to visit this somehow magic place in the future.

And it was also a lot about socializing. Because “we are family” and the design thinkers know each other very well. All the colleagues from the, the former and current students, the agencies around, the experts from Stanford, the rest around the world who is thinking and doing innovation, change, ideas and people. For me this was the most important and most inspiring part of the d.confestival.

Sitting around to chat with interesting and inspiring people. To listen to their ideas, to build on this, to discuss potential joined projects and to start completely new ideas and working threads.

Design Thinking should be also fun (as there is no rule that hard work must not be also fun)  and the d.confestival was for sure a lot of fun. Thanks for this.

Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Tina Marseille
      Tina Marseille


      For all who could not not attend the d.confestival.

      The HPI shared some talks you can watch them here:



      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt

      Thanks to Heike van Geel I am reading your excellent content!  But it is hidden from most readers because you have blogged in your personal blog space.  I'd like to invite you to blog this in the (Technology Innovation) space and make it available to more eyeballs.

      Excellent stuff.  Do you know that we will be hosting an event in SAP TechEd called: The Role of Empathy in Design Thinking .  I'd love for you and Tobias Hildenbrand to attend if you are in Vegas or Madrid or Bangalore and add your knowlege and expertise!