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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Owners: Brand Management
Partners & Resources
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.
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”
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.
For this year’s challenge, Amazon asked
students, “How could Prime Video become a destination
for movie and TV viewers, outside of times when they’re planning on watching
To tackle this challenge, students applied the design thinking approaches they learned through their MBA coursework and KDC programming – including an IA Collaborative-led workshop called “Design Your Next Competitor.”
IA Collaborative co-founder and Chief Design Officer Dan Kraemer was the featured keynote speaker for this year’s challenge and served as one of the judges for the competition alongside co-founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer Kathleen Brandenburg, Business Strategy Group Director Kyle Smith, Business Strategy Director Diane Lee, and Business Strategist Juan Luciano.
We were thrilled to have IA Collaborative’s involvement… they articulated how design and business must converge at every stage of the innovation lifecycle to create new growth – which is complementary to Kellogg’s MBA program and foundational to the KDC competition.
Matt Zoerink, Senior Program Administrator for the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative
The Kellogg Design Challenge is among a portfolio of offerings made possible through the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative (IDEA), designed to equip entrepreneurs, innovators, and growth leaders as they face challenges at every stage of the business life cycle.
This process has fundamentally shifted my professional path and unlocked a new way of thinking for me. Applying design principles to problem solving leads to smarter solutions, and I look forward to leading with this perspective throughout my career.
Oscar Rojas, MBA Candidate at WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management; Kellogg Design Challenge qualifier
This year’s grand prize winners were selected for leveraging human-centered insights to create a compelling strategies Amazon could leverage tomorrow.
How to Apply a Ventures Mindset for Sustainable Growth
By Dan Kraemer
Many companies have an innovation strategy; a “plan to win” that includes staying on top of macro and micro trends, identifying customer pain points and needs, and investing in new technologies. However, the ability to operationalize that strategy and consistently translate it into well-timed and profitable new offerings eludes even the most well-established market leaders.
At IA, we apply a ventures mindset to innovation strategy. We believe the organizations that apply this mindset are able to consistently enter the market with cohesive, vetted, well-timed new offerings.
The following article describes how organizations can benefit from applying a ventures mindset to their innovation strategy to place smart bets on their organization’s future.
The Winning Approach: Ventures Strategy for Growth
Applying a ventures mindset to innovation strategy means that organizations proactively and continuously explore key forces of change in the market, in the context of their current and future business, to identify multiple venture opportunities. Through testing, iteration, and prioritization, ideal options emerge and are quickly brought to market.
A ventures strategy creates a continuous portfolio of market opportunities to fuel business innovation.
With this approach, organizations have multiple opportunities at their disposal and develop criteria for advancement of the most promising and market-ready options. This application of a ventures mindset – in the context of innovation – creates early awareness of latent opportunities and enables swift stakeholder alignment.
Because several possible market opportunities are continuously identified, a business can consistently define and launch new ventures before others do – and create the conditions to win in a competitive marketplace.
Activating a Ventures Mindset
To apply a ventures mindset to their innovation strategy, leaders must continuously conduct research with their current and future users, assess technology shifts and other macro and market factors to identify signals of changing demand, and align these forces with corporate strategy.
To rapidly identify insights and hypothesize a range of likely future scenarios, three forces of change must be continuously monitored:
Macro changes: societal, economic, and technological trends
Demand-based changes: how users’ wants, needs, and behavior are evolving
Market shifts: emerging disruptors and changing customer loyalty
Technology – and how we use it – is an especially important indicator of change. Consider tech at both the high-end of the market – where the tech is interesting, but may currently be too expensive or advanced for today’s customers – and the low-end of the market – where the tech is affordable, but not robustly solving current customer needs. At either end, how users interact with the tech (or could interact with it) can clue organizations in on how customer needs and desires will evolve.
Changing technology is just one of many forces of change to consider, but all take part in shaping the future of business, users, and society.
Adaptive Corporate Strategy
By taking a ventures mindset, an organization translates key forces of change into user insights, and filters the insights through corporate strategy. For new venture options to surface, ask:
How does this insight align with our enduring mission and vision?
How does it fit within our strategic portfolio of core, adjacent and transformational ventures? Does it align with our innovation ambition and risk tolerance?
Do we have the capabilities to succeed? What resources or processes must be developed?
Do the economics align with current expectations? Will the opportunity’s size and profit margins justify allocating the needed resources to succeed?
If your insights are compelling and they imply a “fit” with the company’s mission and vision, but aren’t a fit with its current processes and economics, don’t necessarily say “no”. Consider standing up separate entitiesto incubate ideas. This approach can protect high-potential opportunities that are currently too small to justify needed resources within the parent organization.
By aggregating company mission and vision, ambition, and economic advantages in combination with user insights, key stakeholders can align on priorities and set innovation goals to ground new ideas.
Informed by powerful insights and aligned leadership, dedicated project teams are created; either within the parent company, or as part of a separate entity. Teams challenge assumptions, and envision concept systems that create, deliver and capture new value. Through the process, multiple business opportunities – or “options” – emerge. Teams quickly explore and construct arange of value propositions. Using “lo-fidelity” visualizations they quickly co-create value props with users and stakeholders before investing resources to build and test new products and services. The most promising opportunities are refined and prioritized for prototyping and piloting.
Business Prototypes and Pilots
The next step is to put “business prototypes” into the marketas fast as possible. Business prototyping strategies can include physical and digital experiments such as service simulations, pop-up locations and A/B tests. With these “realistic” prototypes, teams can quickly collect behavioral data that is both qualitative and quantitative. This enables teams to confidently prioritize features and iterate in real-time as data is gathered. Managers can identify which options should be pivoted, divested, or scaled for success.
Organizations can leverage the same data to make informed investment decisions. For example, by comparing a feature’s importance in delivering on the value proposition with its level of effort to deliver, managers can determine what components should be built from the ground up, acquired, or co-developed with a strategic partner.
Ventures Strategy in Action
IA Collaborative recently worked with a global pharmaceuticals company to influence the future of their industry. Our team uncovered rapid insights by analyzing broader macro-trends – from hyper-personalization to changing subscription service models. We then contextualized how these changes impact buyer behavior and produced a holistic view of competitor dynamics. By framing this data to the company’s mission, capabilities, and goals, the team aligned corporate strategy with user needs to create several market opportunities focused on the future of personalized medicine.
With actionable options at their disposal, the client is now confidently and proactively piloting opportunities that benefit their future users and their future business – before their competitors do.
We’re also working with one of the world’s largest investment companies to disrupt the market with future-forward products and offerings. In this instance, we developed rapid insights by focusing on a single key user and identifying several possible market opportunities based on macro trends, market research, and user research. By contextualizinginnovative ideas with corporate strategy, brand-aligned concepts emerged centered on the relationships between parents, children, and finances. We designed actionable options for collaborative money management and tested several low fidelity future products to gauge market feasibility, iterate on user feedback, and prioritize opportunities aligned with organizational goals.
By testing multiple options simultaneously, we are proactively identifying innovative solutions and piloting them in the market– minimizing risk of future investment for new innovations.
Applying a Ventures Mindset to your Innovation Strategy
Innovation strategy is not a “once a year” or an “ad hoc” activity. Organizations investing in proactive innovation initiatives should continually collect indications of the future, aggregate observations into patterns and guiding principles of need, and evolve criteria for advancement.
Organizations that apply a ventures mindset will be uniquely positioned to maintain market leadership, can more effectively prioritize innovation and corporate development resources, and make better strategic decisions.
there, they’ll explore how across the healthcare landscape, rapidly shifting
consumer expectations are eroding traditional competitive barriers. The team
will discuss how nimble upstarts are seizing on low points of the customer
journey to design – and launch – more compelling experiences than their
Through IA’s workshop, attendees will learn how to identify the unmet needs of their target audience, anticipate unexpected disruptors, and create their own next competitor – before someone else does.
About NEXT NEXT Medical Design Deep Dive 2019 investigates how the role of design and the industrial designer is evolving to keep pace with the rapid changes in healthcare. The conference delivers a rich, educational, and thought-provoking experience with in-depth talks and immersive ‘in-situ’ labs led by some of the industry’s top medical design practitioners.
Joseph B. Martin Conference Center
Harvard Medical School
77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
Boston, MA 02115
IA Collaborative Hosts Launch of MICA Alumni Network
IA Collaborative is hosting the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Alumni Network for the launch of its newest MICA Regional Network. IA Collaborative leaders will share how the organization delivers value to its diverse set of clients by bringing together designers, researchers, business strategists, and technologists to provide cross-disciplinary expertise.