Stanford, Tesla Motors Join Forces for Exec Ed Program

TeslaStanford Graduate School of Business announced Tuesday that it has tapped Tesla Motors for a new customer innovation project. Tesla will collaborate with executives from around the world to reinvent the car-buying experience as part of the Customer-Focused Innovation executive education program.

A pioneer in electric vehicle manufacturing, Tesla will be featured as a week-long class project to immerse participating executives in the practice of corporate innovation and “design thinking.”

Developed by the GSB and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, Customer-Focused Innovation marries business school classroom models with the d-school’s hands-on field research to help executives better understand customer experiences, develop deeper customer insights, diffuse customer learning throughout their organizations, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Key features of the Stanford collaboration will have program participants conducting:

* Interviews of Tesla’s key management and dealership personnel

* Observation of real car buyers at Tesla and non-Tesla dealerships

* Ideation, design, prototyping and iteration of new vehicle purchase models

* Presentation of proposed models to Tesla management

“Tesla’s participation allows us to bring real world innovation into the classroom for our executive participants,” says GSB professor of organizational behavior Hayagreeva Rao, who co-directs Customer-Focused Innovation with Robert Sutton, professor of management science and engineering at the Stanford Engineering School.

“This program fuses the idea of so-called ”˜clean models’ of the business school classroom with the ”˜dirty hands’ of the design school process. Combining these will be a powerful experience.”

The program, aimed at senior-level executives, will take place November 8-13, 2009. For more information or to register, visit

(Tesla image courtesy of Flickr user jurvetson, CC 2.0)


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