Design for Women: Katie Schlott Talks Inclusive Design

To celebrate International Women’s Day, IA Collaborative Partner Katie Schlott sat down with Bill Staikos of the Be Customer Led podcast. In the conversation, Katie explains why inclusive design is so important today. She talks about why she started a Design for Women capability at IA. She talks about ways that companies can innovate to meet women’s needs now and in the future.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day…think about, how are you integrating your various products, services or solutions to solve bigger, more systemic challenges facing women?

Katie Schlott, Partner, IA Collaborative

During the podcast, Katie explains what inclusive design is more broadly. She talks about what inclusive design means for women. She emphasizes the importance of including the perspective of all women when designing new products and services.

Katie mentions statistics from the book Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. This book illustrates the many opportunities we have create new and better products and services for women.

When you’re designing for and marketing to the same homogeneous demographics time and time again, you’re missing out on huge areas of opportunity for equity and innovation.

Design for Women: Learn More and Connect with Us

If you’re interested in learning more about IA Collaborative’s Design for Women capability, visit

To listen to the podcast, visit Katie’s Be Customer Led show page:

You can also watch, download, or listen to the episode here:

7 Elements of Design Innovation

The 7 Elements of Design Innovation™

The Practice of User Centered Business Design

Design Innovation Overview

For design innovation to succeed, it has to be Desirable, Possible and Viable. Desirable – wanted by users. Possible – technically feasible. Viable – able to support future business goals. We’ve been doing innovation consulting for more than 20 years. We’ve learned that it’s critical to understand, explore, and prioritize the overlaps between these three lenses to successfully innovate.

We call this the 7 Elements of Design Innovation™. It’s a tool to ensure that every new design innovation, or human-centered offering, is integrated into business strategy.

Download the Framework

The Key to Successful Innovation: Systemic Thinking

In traditional corporate structures, it’s common for teams to focus on just one or two of the seven elements in isolation. At IA, we consider all design innovation elements systemically — helping our clients collaborate across their organizations to create new offerings that end users value, stakeholders can feasibly implement, and leadership can be confident will deliver business impact.

User Experience

What to ask: What are the user’s wants, needs, and potential?

What it is: User experience design begins with determining our most important users and then diving deep to understand their wants and needs. By observing patterns of current activities, workarounds, and aspirations, insights are derived to guide the creation of new offerings.

Whether insights prescribe entirely new business models or re-tooled elements, a foundational user understanding enables concepting, design, and mapping of ideal future experiences.

User Experience Owners: Consumer Insights, Digital & User Experience

Process & Capabilities

What to ask: What systems and internal capabilities will we leverage or evolve?

What it is: Process and capabilities design are paramount in building a culture focused on design innovation. Through capabilities design, a company’s financial, physical, intellectual, and human resources can be connected in more agile and elastic ways to inspire dynamic and unexpected value creation, improving core functions and driving a healthier workplace.

A company’s core process design can also leverage a user-centered approach to challenge organizational conventions and prototype new approaches to corporate strategy, R&D, knowledge management, and skills development.

Process & Capabilities Owners: Engineering, Manufacturing, IT/Technology

Profit Models

What to ask: What will users value and how will we derive profit?

What it is: User-centered profit models are based on a rich understanding of what users truly value. By uncovering genuine motivations for purchases, new and tailored revenue models can be established. Often, multiple models are created to provide users maximum access to offerings while keeping competitors at a distance.

Considerations around pricing are driven by user value creation and willingness to pay, versus competitive pressures. Because this framework is user-centered, rather than competition-driven, typical purchase patterns are routinely disrupted, delivering new options and opportunities for buyer engagement.

Profit Models Owners: Corporate Strategy, Finance


What to ask: What relationship will users want to have with us?

What it is: Strong brands are based on establishing meaningful relationships with users. The scale of most corporations necessitates a broad range of brand interaction methods — from one-to-one conversations to mass communication.

Regardless of tactic, a company’s communications, language, imagery, and iconography must be consistently aligned with user values. Key innovations in the Brand element explore brand position, brand image, customer relationship management, and customer engagement.

A coordinated, user-centered brand practice will distinguish offerings, maximize recognition, and drive preference among current and future users.

Brand Owners: Brand Management

Partners & Resources

What to ask: What user needs will be served if we leverage other’s capabilities and profit models?

What it is: The value we create for users should not be limited to our own process and capabilities. From infrastructure to open innovation, collaboration with complementors or competitors can disrupt a market by quickly enabling access to new expertise, customers, capital, and other resources.

Networks can be short term alliances to execute a special project, or enduring partnerships to establish new entities. These relationships can reduce cost and risk or enable the creation of otherwise unfeasible offerings. The Partners & Resources element seeks to tap latent marketplace potential to deliver lasting user and business value.

Partners & Resources Owners: Strategic Partnerships, Sourcing


What to ask: Where will users engage throughout their purchase journey?

What it is:  Of all seven elements, user expectations are perhaps changing most rapidly in Channel. Physical stores are polarizing: some becoming physical showrooms for their e-commerce competitors; others, highly immersive flagships for powerful brands. Users demand both speedy self-empowered check-outs and highly tailored consultation.

Through the right mix of technology, experience, brand, and commerce, channels can deliver on users’ fragmented tastes and time constraints. This element considers trade-offs of owned versus partner; direct versus indirect; physical versus digital; as well as earned versus paid media to build awareness and motivate user purchase.

Channels Owners: Sales, Strategy


What to ask: What platforms, products, and services will be rewarding to deliver?

What it is: User-centered offerings span products and services that align to deliver compelling and seamless experiences. Each product or service within an ecosystem executes against one or more specific unmet need. Individual offerings deliver a quality experience, yet they become better together.

Whether delivering product enhancements or truly disruptive offerings, this platform approach drives ongoing sales, establishes competitive barriers, increases presence in channels, builds brand equity, and enables the company to create longer-term customer relationships.

Offering Owners: CEO/Senior Leadership, Product Management

A Practice of User-Centered Business Design

IA Collaborative’s Seven Elements of Design Innovation™ combines human-centered, iterative design thinking with holistic, rigorous corporate strategy to engage and connect all areas of company leadership.

By activating this systemic framework, leaders can confidently place strategic bets on future options, better serve their users, and enable new business growth.

Download the Framework

Interested in learning more on how IA Collaborative enables innovation for some of the leading businesses in the world? Contact us.


IA Collaborative Presents the Accelerated Futures
That Will Impact Every Industry

Dan Kraemer, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at IA Collaborative, was a recent presenter at DTVX 2020, the Design Thinking Virtual Conference.

In his talk, “How to Protect Your Business and Accelerate Innovation in the New Normal,” he gave a preview of IA Collaborative’s new Accelerated Futures Model™ and 4 hyperaccelerated trends coming out of COVID-19 that will leave a lasting impact on every business.

Further, he explained the specific implications for each hyper-accelerated trend, and provided tools for prototyping new business offerings to capture new value while demand is rapidly shifting.

“Every design leader’s new charter is to anticipate accelerated change in their industry and determine what new business offerings to prototype as a result.”

-Dan Kraemer


You’re Adapting and Innovating Fast…Keep It That Way.

4 ways companies are locking-in new levels of speed, agility and experimentation

Here at IA Collaborative, we know there’s never been a more acute need for businesses to employ intense creativity to address the challenges of social distancing, rapidly evolving behaviors, and massive uncertainty.

Leaders have had to completely rethink strategies that just six months ago were the cornerstone of growth and competitive advantage. And global mega trends like experiential retail are now completely up for grabs as consumer personas based on years of data are being rebuilt.

This widespread disruption is accelerating timelines for long term transformations and forcing changes you always knew your business needed. And though innovating feels difficult when you’re fighting for survival, this crisis is an opportunity for your organization to become faster and more agile than ever before. 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve synthesized 100s of hours of conversations with strategic business leaders across major industries to understand how top companies are getting ahead—and how you can achieve the same.

Inflection points accelerate inevitable behaviors

Companies and consumers are in the midst of large-scale trials and people are more open to change than ever.

These events change behavior in two key ways:

  • Instant Adaptation: Instinctual actions influenced by immediate considerations and observing how others react with the hope that things will soon u-curve back to normal.
  • Creation of New Rituals: When normal life is disrupted for longer periods, purposeful and informed behaviors arise in response. These new habits develop over weeks and can have lasting effects.

One of the biggest implications for innovation leaders is the need to identify which pre-crisis inevitabilities are now going to be put on the fast track. For instance, Walmart was trialing curbside pick-up pre-pandemic and expected it to account for 33% of 2020 digital sales. Today, however, first time use is up 400% and ecommerce sales are up 74%.

We’re seeing the most accelerated change in areas where shifts in consumer demand, new government regulations, and desirable corporate innovations are aligned.

The stakes are high, but so is your opportunity.

Four things future winners are doing differently

This crisis isn’t creating simple winners and losers. In fact, many companies find themselves in situations where some aspects of their business are incredibly popular while others are now untenable.

To address these challenges, all businesses are employing similar tactics: scaling to meet demand, pivoting to find short-term value, analyzing data on what’s in demand, and planning for the new normal.

But in speaking with industry leaders and partners, we found successful companies are taking a more nuanced approach to create additional value and earned advantages.

Achieving the same requires a shift in your mindset. 

If your industry is scaling to meet demand…

1. Find Ways to Go Faster, Forever

Demand for your Current Offering: Up

Uncertainty: Low

Horizon: Immediate

Value: Make your company faster to respond for the long term while capturing immediate revenue

While others rush to meet demand, search for ingenious ways to harness that velocity and make it permanent. Re-examine your processes and look to maximize efficiency and produce sustainable scaling.

We’ve seen this encapsulated by leaders in grocery and delivery spaces. The closure of Wuhan, China, created a massive need for contactless delivery, so ramped up deployment of smart vehicles and worked with local officials to establish new drone routes, cutting rural delivery times from 6-hours to just 20 minutes.

Facing similar demand, Instacart expanded ordering features to offer customers more options for delivery and ordering ahead, and accelerated a data-sharing program with retailers to help prevent shelf shortages.

Your changes today could become a bigger part of tomorrow’s baseline, and customers will never be more accepting of trial-and-error.

If your industry is pivoting to find short-term value…

2. Make Agility Permanent

Demand for your Current Offering: Down

Uncertainty: Low

Horizon: Immediate

Value: Develop a culture of agility while making the most of temporary changes

Wide-scale disruption provides opportunities to reinvent old processes and unlock agility. In addition to generating short-term value, shifting resources to address current demands is a chance to reimagine your operation.

Facing shuttered theatres, Universal studios broke tradition and released Trolls World Tour digitally. The move generated more than $100 million in the first three weeks, and despite backlash from theatres, Universal committed to future digital releases, demonstrating the value of this added flexibility.

Companies have also begun experimenting with task forces, developing cross-functional teams that disrupt siloed work. These groups help businesses break free of formalized decision-making and typical hierarchies, empowering change.

Organizations now have the opportunity to document the impact of these collaborative models and uncover practices that will help prevent a retreat back to silos post-crisis.

This is a moment to redesign how we work and take positive steps toward permanent agility.

If your industry is analyzing data on what’s in demand… 

3. Embrace the Rarity of “Welcome Experiments”

Demand for your Current Offering: Up

Uncertainty: Low

Horizon: Immediate & Long Term 

Value: Gain strategic insight into future offerings by utilizing heightened consumer engagement

Offerings are transitioning from early adopters to mass acceptance at a wildly accelerated rate. But while others are simply studying, you can co-develop solutions and accelerate learning with engaged participants.

Change in healthcare is typically slow and incremental, but now we’re seeing years of progress on telemedicine occur in weeks. Established tools like accuRX have leveraged existing trust into wide scale adoption. Within 48 hours, the patient texting tool developed a video chat feature. This over-the-weekend experiment capitalized on an eager userbase and quickly became the standard of care for 90% of clinics in England.

United Healthcare is also experimenting with its Virtual Visits tool. First launched in October ’19, it connects remote patients with available doctors across the country. With massive disparity in patient loads and access to care nationwide, the tool is welcome relief to patients and providers alike.

With so many pockets of unprecedented enthusiasm, there’s ample opportunity for co-creation and discovery.

If your industry is marching towards a new normal… 

4. Build for Multiple “Possible Futures”

Demand for your Current Offering: Any

Uncertainty: High

Horizon: Future

Value: Get ahead of your competition by gaining market info early and building future flexibility

Due to the uncertainty on the horizon, your industry may be preparing for the most likely future. But with so many variables in flux, the biggest winners will be those who plan for multiple futures and start prototyping new ventures today. This provides low-risk options for your business to hold, scale, or exit, creating maximum flexibility.

One industry working to anticipate changing needs is insurance. Predicting a growing market for identity protection, Allstate is offering free sign-ups for their multi-billion dollar app. At the same time, they’re also preparing for the future of delivery by offering delivery coverage as part of their standard car insurance.

At IA Collaborative, we create Possible Futures Playbooks, investigating industry and consumer trends to help companies uncover how to win. The residential real estate market has been highly impacted by Covid-19, with web traffic for sites like Zillow and Redfin down almost 40%. New home listings are also down 70% in some markets, and as economies reopen, we’ll see new trends emerge.

Working from home could lead to increased desire to live anywhere or move more frequently as jobs become less tied to location. Fatigue from sheltering in place could lead to higher demand for commitment-light home options, such as memberships that allow you to move from place to place. And would-be-buyers may now seek lower financial commitments, paving the way for mortgage alternatives where “rent” could be converted to lower-risk/lower return investments. 

And you’re already seeing indicators of this from home sharing. In a recent interview, Airbnb CEO Brian Cheskey said, “Fewer people are going to be living in a single city. People are going to live a few months here, a few months there, because work from home can soon be work from any home.” 

By taking stock of multiple futures, companies can conduct pilots to prepare for the post-pandemic future.

Securing your future

Crisis pressures can drive businesses to a place of pure reactivity, and the overwhelming needs of the moment can steal focus from the competitive challenge ahead. Finding your advantages requires a commitment to seeking opportunities.

The steps you take today will help define your organization for years to come.


IA Collaborative Supports the Fight Against COVID-19

IA Collaborative supports OSF HealthCare Pandemic Health Worker Program (PWHP)

IA Collaborative is proud to be designing critical materials to support the OSF HealthCare Pandemic Health Worker Program (PHWP), which is part of a partnership with the State of Illinois recently announced by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The PHWP will serve individuals with COVID-19 symptoms and protect the well-being of the general public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic Health Workers (PHWs) will digitally connect with referred clients who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and need to stay home or quarantine to protect themselves and others. Through this program, OSF HealthCare and the State of Illinois will proactively and digitally support those needing care, while also reducing the potential influx of non-emergent patients into a hospital’s emergency department. 

OSF HealthCare engaged IA Collaborative to rapidly design, develop, and launch a suite of patient-facing materials to make the home care process understandable and safe. By providing timely support and resources to encourage this behavior, IA Collaborative is proud to do our part to help flatten the curve in Illinois.

The PHW program is an extension of the role OSF HealthCare is providing with compassion and competence in a healthcare crisis. IA Collaborative helped design an experience to ensure that individuals enrolled in the program feel cared for and know key actions to take while recovering at home.

 -Dr. John Vozenilek, Vice President/Chief Medical Officer, Innovation and Digital Health, OSF HealthCare

IA Collaborative designed a client-facing handbook and digital site as part of a care kit that will be delivered to a client’s home. The kits support the program’s broader effort to safeguard hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, by digitally supporting those needing care and limiting the spread of the virus.

At IA Collaborative, we champion the strategic value of design. We believe that design determines behavior – and that well-designed products, services, and experiences have the power to create positive behavior change and save lives. We are proud to partner with OSF HealthCare on this critical public health initiative.

-Kathleen Brandenburg, Co-Founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer at IA Collaborative


IA Collaborative Helps Select Fortune’s List of Greatest Designs

Co-founder Kathleen Brandenburg weighs in on the products that are making lives better

Co-founder and Chief Design Research Officer Kathleen Brandenburg joined leading design experts to help select Fortune’s greatest designs of modern times, sharing how Apple and Skype are transforming human connection.

“Not only an instant way to be constantly connected, but a flexible, ever-evolving design that becomes whatever each user wants it to be.”

  • Brandenburg describing the impact of Apple’s iPhone

Fortune partnered with IIT Institute of Design (ID) to poll educators, influencers, freelance designers, and corporate design teams to uncover the products that are making lives simpler, better, and more stylish.

See the full report.

Image by Fortune Magazine


IA Global Climate Change Office Challenge

A 5-day Challenge to Encourage Sustainable Practices at Our Offices and Beyond

Global Climate Change is a design problem. At IA, we work to create opportunities in many categories of responsible design and believe that Global Climate Change is one of several areas that deserve our attention. After all, we believe that design determines behavior.

In that spirit, we’re kicking off a 5-Day IA Global Climate Change Office Challenge.

Each day, we will set an actionable goal that you can participate in. It is our hope that these small actions might take hold and responsibly influence the way every one of us can contribute. Every effort counts!

The Challenge

Meatless Monday 

How might you forgo meat for one day? Livestock production accounts for 50% of our man-made carbon emissions.* What better day to start making a healthy change than on Monday? Read more about the benefits here.

*Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Talk Tuesday 

How might you talk to others about these ideas? Imagine if every office adopted all of these best practices? With numbers so large (paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste) every action really does count.

Water Wednesday 

How might you use less water? The average office uses 120 gallons of water per week simply by washing dishes. What can you do to minimize that number today? By using one glass and/or mug throughout the day, we can reduce the water we use via our dishwashers. 

  • Use one glass, and/or one mug throughout the day.
  • Skip placing food on a dish and eat directly from its container.

Plastic-free Thursday

How might you skip plastic altogether? IA has always avoided single-use plastic wear in favor of glass, metal and all-natural kitchen materials. We choose recycled materials when purchasing your pens and paper to help reduce the plastic waste that affects our oceans and marine life. Not so fun fact: it takes six years for one straw to biodegrade!

Actions we can take today include:

  • Skip straws.
  • Skip plastic bags or bring your own when transporting food from a restaurant to the office.

Zero Paper Friday

How might you go paperless? U.S. offices use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper per year. How can you help? Start today by challenging yourself to go paperless. 

  • Skip printing: see if you can work digitally by projecting your work instead of hanging it. 
  • Use hand dryers rather than paper towels. 
  • Use whiteboards instead of half-sheets. Bonus: standing up and moving around a white board gives your body a healthy break from sitting!

Design Drives Podcast: Driving Strategy Through Design

Sebastian Gier interviews IA Collaborative's Kathleen Brandenburg

In his podcast Design Drives, Sebastian Gier sits down with Kathleen Brandenburg, Co-founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer at IA Collaborative. During this episode, Kathleen and Sebastian explore Kathleen’s career, the power of design, and its rise in the world of business.

They discuss how to earn buy-in from stakeholders, how to be a master of collaboration (learning from the culture of IA Collaborative) and how designing for behavior change is a huge responsibility for designers – and can even save lives. 

Listen to Episode #16, Driving Strategy Through Design below.

IDSA’s Design Drives podcast shares insights from the International Design Conference’s best speakers and design leaders.

I think design has the opportunity to change the world. I always believed that every problem and challenge is a design challenge.

  • Kathleen Brandenburg, Co-founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer, IA Collaborative

Design for Women: Katie Schlott Honored by She Runs It “Changing the Game” Awards

Katie Schlott, Partner of Client Growth Strategies at IA Collaborative, is a winner in the 2021 She Runs It Changing the Game Awards, which are dedicated to “recognizing women who are true catalysts of innovation – fearlessly making bold moves and reinventing their organizations and those of their clients.”

A winner in the ‘No Apologies’ category, Katie is a transformational leader driving high profile innovation initiatives for IA’s Fortune 100 clients. Last year, Katie launched IA Collaborative’s latest offering, network and knowledge-sharing platform, Design for Women, which aims to infuse gender equity into the design process and put women at the forefront of new product and service innovation.

Katie is a champion for women’s professional development inside and outside of IA. She is committed to showcasing what women in innovation leadership can look like through mentoring budding female entrepreneurs at organizations like 1871, She Runs It, and the Business Incubator program at Oak Park and River Forest high schools, where she resides with her family.

On the Executive Board of Friends of Prentice, which funds research at Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern University in Chicago, Katie is an outspoken champion of women’s health and funding research grants to design better healthcare experiences and outcomes for women. 

Inspired, and want to connect?