Stanford Executive Education Course: Hands-on with JetBlue

Applications open for the Customer-Focused Innovation executive education program which includes a collaborative exercise with JetBlue.

August 11, 2011

Stanford GSB and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at the Stanford School of Engineering will collaborate with JetBlue in an executive education exercise designed to suggest enhancements to the carrier’s airport experience with business leaders from around the world. The project will take place during an upcoming Customer-Focused Innovation program to be offered October 30-November 4, 2011. Applications are now open.

Ten-year-old JetBlue, an airline pioneer that offers customer-friendly travel amenities including leather seats, satellite television and award-winning customer service, will be featured as a case study in a week-long class project to immerse participating executives in the practice of corporate innovation. Customer-Focused Innovation marries business school classroom models with hands-on field research and design thinking developed at the Institute, also known as the d.school, to help executives better understand customer experiences, develop deeper customer insights, diffuse customer learning throughout their organizations, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

“Executives will immerse themselves in the San Francisco International Airport travel experience and build a deeper understanding of both the customer’s needs and JetBlue’s practices in an exercise designed to re-imagine and potentially enhance that experience. The practical skills the executives gain will be applicable across industries,” says Robert Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at the Stanford Engineering School and professor by courtesy at the Graduate School of Business. “This program fuses the idea of so-called ‘clean models’ of the business school classroom with the ‘dirty hands’ of the design school process,” says Graduate School of Business organizational behavior professor Hayagreeva Rao, who codirects Customer-Focused Innovation with Sutton. “Combining these is a powerful experience.”

Design expert Perry Klebahn, the inventor of the modern snowshoe and an associate consulting professor at the d.school, will be working closely with participants on the JetBlue project during the program. Klebahn is founder and former CEO of Atlas Snowshoes, former COO of Patagonia, and former CEO of Timbuk2.

The collaboration will allow JetBlue to gain independent insight into their airport experience at SFO from Stanford academics and participating executives. Participants will focus on disembarking, navigating the gate and airport, getting luggage, finding and meeting ground transportation ? both from the traveler’s perspective and the JetBlue crewmember’s experience.

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

Interviews of JetBlue’s key management personnel Observation of real travelers disembarking at SFO Ideation, design, prototyping and iteration of new procedures and experiences Presentation of proposed models to JetBlue management

“We’re always looking for fresh and innovative ideas to enhance the ‘JetBlue Experience’ for our Customers. The Stanford School program is an exciting opportunity to tap into some of the most dynamic innovation experts in academia to take an innovative look at the airport experience, said Marty St. George, the airline’s senior vice president of marketing and commercial strategy.

By Michele Chandler

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