Kathleen Brandenburg Talks Designing for Health on “The Visible Voices” Podcast

IA Collaborative Co-Founder and Co-CEO Kathleen Brandenburg was recently featured on “The Visible Voices” podcast, in conversation with host and practicing emergency medicine physician, Resa Lewiss, MD.

The two discussed the illuminating, necessary power of systemic thinking to solve complex problems; the importance of keeping research creative; and how human-centered design can advance health equity and positive health outcomes.

Rather than stay in the insulated, speculative space of assumed user needs, Kathleen champions the IA maxim “live the problem to design the solution.

This can mean suiting up in PPE in a high-temperature environment to uncover the lived experience of aid workers; lacing up and running alongside athletes when designing for better performance; or, scrubbing into the OR to directly observe how surgeons navigate an operation. The goal: Uncover not only the pain points but the bright spots empowering users — athletes, patients, doctors, or otherwise — to access the solution they seek.

“Design allows us to look systemically at everything. We look at all Five Human Factors; we don’t just think about the physical issues. We think about the social, the cognitive, the emotional, the cultural.”

— Kathleen Brandenburg, IA Collaborative Co-Founder + Co-CEO

You can listen to the podcast episode on thevisiblevoicespodcast.com or on Apple podcasts.

About Kathleen Brandenburg, Co-Founder, Co-CEO of IA Collaborative

Kathleen was an early pioneer and advocate for human centered design and one of the first to link design, business strategy and innovation. In 2000, she co-founded IA collaborative, a global design and innovation consultancy based in Chicago. Fast Company has named her a “Master of Design” and one of the 50 most influential designers. She has been a Harvard Visiting Professor of Design for Social Innovation. 

About Resa E. Lewiss, MD + “The Visible Voices” Podcast

Resa is a practicing Emergency Medicine physician and the first woman Professor of Emergency Medicine and Radiology at Thomas Jefferson University. She is the Director of Point of Care Ultrasound. She speaks, publishes, and writes on healthcare, equity, and current trends. She produces the Philadelphia-based “The Visible Voices” podcast, which amplifies voices that are Visible and those that may be Invisible.

An Ebola aid worker holding a young child

IA Collaborative Lives the Problem to Design the Solution

The Vision

Employing a design approach to get as close to the user experience as possible when developing solutions in a crisis situation, resulting in an award-winning Core Cooling Kit to combat the Ebola outbreak. Flooded by news reports of the ever-growing Ebola outbreak – and believing that any challenge is a design challenge – IA Collaborative was compelled to marshal company resources to design a solution to fight the pandemic.

The Process

IA Co-Founder and Co-CEO Kathleen Brandenburg first called an urgent “all hands” meeting to assess interest and assemble a team. Serendipitously, while IA Leadership was mobilizing the team, they discovered that the USAID had issued a Grand Challenge to agencies across the country for innovative ideas that could minimize the spread of Ebola and help save lives. The team made it their goal to answer the call. Thinking systemically about what was happening on the ground in affected communities, the team uncovered critical contextual information to guide the development of a Core Cooling Kit.

The Result

This elegant cooling solution employs available, local, and sustainable resources to nearly double the amount of time aid workers could spend in their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when saving lives in the field.

Five-Time Featured Speaker Dan Kraemer to Again Headline Design Thinking 2022

The IA Collaborative Co-Founder & Co-CEO Will Present on 'The State of Design + Business 2023'

Five-team keynote speaker Dan Kraemer will again headline the Design Thinking Conference in Austin, TX, kicking off the second of the three-day event with “The State of Design + Business 2023.”

An early pioneer of human-centered design, Dan has sourced insights from 20+ years of the most impactful engagements with brands including Nike, Apple, Google, Airbnb, and others.

Identifying that the growth potential of design thinking has never been more critical to the CEO’s agenda in 2023, Dan will reveal how innovators and leaders can, and must, move from prototype to pilot at an ever-increasing velocity.

His keynote will speak to the imperative faced by innovators to:

  • Strengthen the core while supplementing with recurring revenue services
  • Create virtuous feedback loops to drive consumer loyalty and longevity
  • Accelerate the velocity and hit rate of new offerings
  • And more
IA Collaborative Dan Kraemer Design Innovation Speaker
IA Collaborative Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Dan Kraemer, presents on leading the forefront of design and innovation.

Dan joins a distinguished speaker lineup for the 2022 Design Thinking Conference in Austin, TX. Speakers and attendees include design leaders from Morgan Stanley, Mastercard, Amazon, IDEO U, and others.

Read More

Dan regularly connects with leaders of the design innovation community. Read his Speaker Spotlight Interview with Netflix’s Fonz Morris, Lead Product Designer, Global Conversion, for more insights on how large, established organizations can continue to Find New Growth, Create New Offerings, and Empower a Culture of Innovation.

About Dan

An expert on global design and innovation, Dan has long championed the power of a human-centered design for business. He is the author of the 7 Elements of Design Innovation™ and the Four Decisions of Growth framework.


The 7 Elements of Design Innovation™

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Nokia Global Factors Human Conference IA Collaborative

Why Empathy Isn’t Enough: Katie Schlott on Tapping the Power of Inclusive Design

Client Growth Partner Katie Schlott has been published in Fast Company, championing inclusive design principles as the timely and necessary pathway for business leaders to build affirming workplaces that work for all.

The article, titled “Empathy isn’t enough. Why inclusive design principles unlock what leaders need,” invites business leaders to think beyond empathy and instead implement inclusive design principles in their organization.

Extending the possible uses and needs of products and environments to the widest variety of people is not only the right thing to do; it’s the only way we’ll create a fair, just, and ethical world. It’s also the best way to uncover new opportunities for growth innovation.

— Katie Schlott, Partner, IA Collaborative

Whereas empathy runs the risk of serving as an imaginative exercise only, inclusive design gives leaders the frameworks they need to affirm and strengthen their teams. As Schlott writes, leveraging inclusive design helps leaders to challenge unintentional exclusion, center diverse experiences, and design for all.

Challenge unintentional exclusion

Build spaces intentionally designed for collaboration and knowledge-sharing among those who have been historically excluded or minimized at work.

At IA Collaborative, we emphatically believe in the strategic business value of inclusive design. To this end, we created a Design for Women capability: A roundtable series and connector network serving to illuminate topics and situations that are acutely experienced by women but under-addressed by design. Attendees of the inaugural roundtable event included more than 25 executives from high-impact brands such as Airbnb, Johnson & Johnson, Google, USAA, Microsoft, Nike, and more. 

Put people at the center of the experience

Apply a “human-centered observational approach to fact-finding.” As Schlott writes: “You can apply it at work by observing and listening with your colleagues serving as the experts. This approach allows you to better understand their day-to-day realities and challenges they need help solving.”

Solve or one, expand to many

Consider the different abilities of your workforce. Ask who traditional work structures support—and who they leave out.

In Schlott’s words: “Inclusive design applied to leadership is essential for designing solutions and creating workplaces that affirm everyone on [y]our team. ”

For business leaders, designing more equitable futures is intrinsic to strategic growth and innovation. When all voices are heard, impact is greatest.

Read the full article HERE.

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 www.iacollaborative.com/women

To listen to the podcast, visit Katie’s Be Customer Led show page: https://becustomerled.com/captivate-podcast/katie-schlott-talks-inclusive-design-designing-for-women/

You can also watch, download, or listen to the episode here: linktr.ee/becustomerled

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 Convenes Fortune 100 Leaders to Discuss
Designing for Women, for the Benefit of All

Cross-Industry Leaders Illuminate Actionable Methods to Champion Women through Design

At IA Collaborative, our mission is to design the future of human experience. With a female Co-Founder and Co-CEO, and a proudly 50% female leadership team, we launched a Design for Women capability to illuminate and address the unmet needs of women – and anyone who identifies with the female gender – through design. Our teams apply IA’s expertise in human-centered design methodologies and integrated business strategy to define and prototype new products and services, and organizational missions and programs, to champion women.

The IA Collaborative Design for Women Roundtable Series themed “Illuminate + Act,” convened  25+ innovation and business leaders across industries including technology, healthcare, consumer products, financial services and insurance representing companies such as Airbnb, Johnson & Johnson, Google, USAA, and more, to explore challenges and bright spots to champion designing for women, for the benefit of all.

Women’s issues are systemic, and intersect with and impact the shared experiences of all genders, and all people. By bringing together this impressive group of leaders, we gained insights to make impact in our organizations, and through our design work – whether it be builds to our process, or the mindsets we use when developing new products and solutions.

-Katie Schlott, Partner, IA Collaborative

Taking Action: Key Themes

Below are key themes from our action-focused conversations with these leaders. They reveal how we can take action within our own organizations and spheres of influence, and collaborate to magnify our impact.

KEY THEME #1: Equity must be a collaboration, not a competition. We should openly share insights, resources, tools and strategies.

We discussed the collective impact we could have if we openly shared and democratized our efforts, and reached out to our competitors as allies. We’ve seen this approach with other pressing challenges facing humanity, including environmental sustainability, where corporate competitors like Coke and Pepsi commit to achieving a shared goal. Imagine if we more openly shared the equitable design tools and resources we’re developing at our own organizations. What if we made internal surveys, or key behavioral insights from research projects open-sourced? 

Another avenue for shared progress is aligning with like-minded partners – who have complementary expertise – to design equitable solutions. For example, to support women returning to work, IA Collaborative facilitated a collaboration between brands Medela, Mamava and Milkstork to improve a returning mother’s experience in the workplace. Together, these partners launched the New Moms’ Healthy Returns program to deliver equipment, advocacy and tools for breastfeeding women and the employers who support them — and they did so by leveraging each other’s strengths and capabilities to make a deeper and greater impact than one company could have done alone. 

Bottom line: Democratizing tools and resources – and collaborating across company lines – will better solve systemic design challenges and create more impactful, scalable solutions.

KEY THEME #2: Open the scope — rethink your “target audience.”

The groups discussed the inherent defaults we currently design for and within when creating products and services. For some, particularly in the financial industry, it is men; and for others, it’s limiting the female target audience to “young women” 18-30. Too often, other gender constructs, races, age groups and ethnicities are left out when companies prioritize what to design and launch next.

The roots of these “default” design decisions run deep, and even the most well-meaning teams can overlook them. Addressing them means proactively building in “bias-checks” in the design process, to address whether your existing designs or services subtly confirm the default. 

Mary Quandt, Director of Experience Strategy at Johnson & Johnson, shared a powerful tool teams use to proactively expand their thinking on “who” a product or service should be designed for. They’ve reframed their creative brief to include a diversity lens and began using “stretch personas” that consider a variety of different perspectives, backgrounds, and needs, which leads to more inclusive design decisions.

Challenging the default can include micro-design decisions—for example the male-wallet icon in an e-shopping experience—a subtle statement about who controls finances. It can also include rethinking UX journeys. Alissa Umansky, Senior Director, Product Design at The Knot, works to prevent bias and assumption in wedding planning.

To avoid making gender-based assumptions in our experience, such as around attire suggestions, we do not ask users to identify as a bride or groom. Instead, we focus on building products that empower every user and every couple, no matter who they are, to plan the wedding that’s right for them.

Alissa Umansky, Senior Director, Product Design at The Knot

Beyond designing for women – new product categories and marketing strategies should address a spectrum of genders and other intersectionalities. And it all starts with rethinking the target audience.

Bottom line: Proactively build in moments in your process – whether it’s initial ideation or design and prototyping – to challenge who your target audience is and what they need.

KEY THEME #3:  Business Prototype “micro-sprints” are a powerful tool to gain Leadership buy-in.

To break through people’s default assumptions and expectations, take baby steps. Experiment. Do a quick research sprint just to gain shared understanding among the leadership team. It’s a great equalizer…customers might kill our assumptions, and that’s great!

Liz Trudeau, SVP of Strategic Design, Wells Fargo

We discussed how many times, big change can take place one small experiment at a time. Gender equity is a systemic issue, and sometimes we let the massive scale of those challenges hinder the effort. However, there are already elements inherent to design thinking and agile development that we can incorporate into our projects to impact women. We can conduct iterative, business prototype sprints to gain early user behavioral insights, metrics, and ROI that can open the door to more funding and successful conversations with Leadership.

In the financial services industry, low-fidelity research on female investor mindsets can disprove assumptions about investment decisions.  In healthcare, a quick “business prototype” of a new service offering, led by IA Collaborative, quickly reversed assumptions business leaders had about user preferences and adoption. And don’t forget internal prototypes, and through them a deeper understanding of employees behaviors and needs. Gaining an understanding of what actions and policies drive real behavior change and thus, real equity, are powerful tools towards progress.

Bottom line:  Start by starting. Gain behavioral insights to demonstrate value and inspire action within your organization.

Design for Women: What You Can Do Next

We all struggle with what is urgent, and what is important. The hardest thing of change at scale is the change, and then the orchestration of the change.

-Hector Ouilhet, Head of Human Centered Innovation & Strategy at Google

The “Illuminate + Act” Design for Women roundtable series brought together incredible leaders across industries to share resources and illuminate areas of opportunity for equitable design. But most importantly, it inspired us to take action on those resources and opportunities. 

At IA, we’re applying these learnings and a design innovation mindset to continue solving equity challenges. We work with business leaders to rethink the role of design in every corner of their organization to design a better future for women, that will benefit all. We can create a world where designing for women is synonymous with “designing” –  whether that be internal processes and tools to support women during their journey within your company, or expand your products and offerings to include women’s needs at the center. 

Do you need support on an upcoming initiative to support women? Are you interested in being a part of a network of design + business leaders uncovering opportunities and sharing resources to design for women? Join our network and send a direct message to designforwomen@iacollaborative.com.

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

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?