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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
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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

Brand

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

Channels

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

Offering

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.

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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?

Design a Winning Innovation Strategy by IA Collaborative
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Design a Winning Innovation Strategy

How to Apply a Ventures Mindset for Sustainable Growth

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

Steps to Innovation by IA Collaborative

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.

Rapid Insights

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 entities to 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.

Actionable Options

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 a range 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 market as 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.

Want to learn more about how you can design a winning innovation strategy? Start a conversation at initiate@iacollaborative.com

06.17

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IA Collaborative Judges and Keynotes World’s Largest MBA Design Competition

Amazon provides real-life business case as corporate partner for Kellogg Design Challenge

Every year, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University hosts the world’s largest MBA business design competition, the Kellogg Design Challenge (KDC) – where teams from top business schools across the country compete to solve a real-life business innovation challenge using design thinking methods. The KDC is among a portfolio of offerings made possible through the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, designed to equip entrepreneurs, innovators, and growth leaders as they face challenges at every stage of the business life cycle.

The IA Collaborative team is a playing a strategic role in this year’s KDC, which will focus on solving a complex business challenge for Amazon. IA co-founder and Chief Design Officer Dan Kraemer is the featured keynote speaker for the challenge, and he will serve as one of the judges for the competition alongside co-founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer Kathleen Brandenburg, and Business Strategy Group Director Kyle Smith.

When

06.17.22
08:30 am

Where

Kellogg Global Hub – Northwestern University
2211 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208
White Auditorium

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Designing the Future Faster: Using Augmented Reality for User Research

How can we capitalize on leading technologies to design smarter user research experiences?

At IA Collaborative, we believe research is creative. We constantly invent new ways to get closer to the user and contextualize yet-to-exist concepts. Lately, this has included the potential intersection of AR and user research.

Augmented Reality enables us to 1.) overlay future-state features on physical prototypes and 2.) place future-state concepts into existing physical environments.

This “augmented research” unlocks new ways to get in-context insight and iterate designs faster. The result is more confident business decisions today on concepts with months or even years of development ahead. 

IA Collaborative team experimenting with AR-enabled user research: Layering multiple hardware and software concepts in-context of an existing Tesla interior.

Helping Business Get to the Future, Faster

By using AR to test new-to-market ideas, concepts become contextualized without the boundaries of producing physical products or technological capabilities.

There is a tension in researching and iterating future concepts: we often want experiences to feel as real as possible, but prototypes-from-the-future can require out-sized time and investment. Add to this that prototypes might leverage emerging or unproven technology, and you see why iterating with AR could accelerate the creation of new offerings. 

We’re starting to leverage AR to overlay the future-state in design research. Some applications we anticipate include: 

  • A medical innovator like Stryker can have surgeons scrub in, put on AR goggles, and interact with 20 interface concepts for pediatric heart monitor; making real a regulated product years before it’s on the market.
  • A housewares innovation company like Muji or Ikea can layer an entire range of yet-to-be manufactured products in living rooms across 5 countries without shipping a single prototype.   
  • A fast-moving transportation disruptor like Tesla can run through hundreds of new interactions and information displays while owners test-drive their latest vehicle. 
  • Global events like Coachella can bring fans to their sites months in advance to prototype a range of on-stage and at-event experiences.

By embedding AR technology into the research strategy, features with market risk can be experienced early and iteration can happen at a fraction of the cost.

Enabling Designers to Rapidly Prototype and Design for Impact

As a research tool, AR enables designers to test for extremes, unlock moments of inspiration, and design the ideal user experience.

Designers can use AR to:

Explore an extreme variety of concepts
Augmented visual and audio cues applied to existing products have the potential to fuel broad design experimentation without incurring extreme production costs. Features can be designed and tested along a wide spectrum of use cases and iterated in great detail. Concepts that may seem too “out-of-the-box” can be plausibly tested, inspiring surprising and valuable insights.  

Pinpoint an optimized experience
Just like a/b testing is used to understand how to design the best digital interaction, AR helps designers pressure-test features in context. Elements can be reacted to holistically or independently, enabling designers to pinpoint an optimized systemic experience.

Gain highly contextual, real-time design inspiration
Using AR gives designers the unique ability to design 3D objects in a 3D environment, rather than on a screen. Previously unseen insights can be uncovered, and new user needs can be surfaced.

We find that iterating in context leads to quicker, human-centered moments of inspiration. Insights are captured, new ideas emerge, experiences can quickly evolve, and learning can be contextualized, all resulting in stronger human-centered design choices.

Accelerating Growth through AR + Design Research

To keep up with the rapid pace of innovation, organizations should explore the use of creative technology like AR to help them move faster. As AR technology advances, research experiences will no doubt become even more sophisticated. Graphics will progress. Hardware will improve. The opportunities to experiment with user expectations, features, environments, and products will evolve, enabling new ways to uncover user insights and unlock business value.

Today, we believe AR delivers unique opportunities in design research, because it enables rapid user testing and real-time design exploration. By implementing AR in design research, companies can de-risk investments, create more user-centered offerings, and accelerate the launch of products, services, and solutions to their most important audiences.

Interested in learning more about how immersive research can help you make informed, strategic business decisions? Contact us at initiate@iacollaborative.com

07.16

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IA Collaborative Hosts Business Leaders During IIT Institute of Design’s Annual Design Thinking Immersion

IA Collaborative is partnering with the IIT Institute of Design to host an evening with executive leaders from organizations including Ford and SC Johnson to discuss the value of design thinking. Founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer Kathleen Brandenburg and Partner Matt Alverson will share how IA Collaborative unlocks business value for some of the most innovative companies in the world and why it’s essential for modern business leaders to invest in the power of human-centered design.

Learn more about the program.

When

07.16.19
06:00 pm

Where

218 South Wabash Avenue
9th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604

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Design for Transformation, Growth, and Scale

Modern, product-obsessed, human-centered organizations understand the value of applying design as business strategy, identifying future demand and envisioning new offerings by asking what’s desirable, possible, and viable.

These companies are also creating significant value by applying design broadly across their organizations: empowering employees, aligning stakeholders, transforming businesses, and making innovation scalable. 

Below are six strategies in which modern organizations are leveraging design to align, strengthen, and prepare teams for growth and scale.  

1. Embedding design principles in every function and BU to align organizational priorities and empower collaboration.

Modern organizations are developing sets of design principles that align the company’s purpose, each business unit’s/department’s growth opportunities, and their users’ emerging needs.

By creating this detailed level of aspiration, and by making each area’s principles known throughout the organization, cross-silo teams have a better idea what information, talent, and assets could be shared and leveraged. Proactive communication and coordination increase across the company. Continuous learning becomes a mindset and processes continue to iterate and improve.

Additionally, strategic hiring, retention, and development are enhanced. Return on invested capital goes up. Marketing becomes more integrated and effective. Ultimately, teams become empowered to explore myriad possibilities with confidence that their solutions will align with company values and direction.

For Allstate’s new digital safety business, IA Collaborative helped develop guiding principles and embed “who we are, what we do, and why we do it” into the talent lifecycle.

2. Championing user research and storytelling to connect user needs with business opportunities. 

Companies that conduct continuous user research to inform ongoing product development and innovation are far more likely to stay ahead of changing customer needs and maintain market leadership. 

To maximize research efforts, modern companies are transforming insights into compelling communication that can be broadly shared across the company. Video, print, and digital media can bring insights to life though user stories embedded with insight. These narratives inspire teams to create user-centered solutions that drive business strategy, offerings, experiences, and operations.

Through thoughtful design, unfamiliar concepts are easily digested and novel ideas are brought to life, helping both the enlightened and novice business leader learn, adopt, and grow.

For the young athletes team, IA Collaborative conducted research with 10-year-old “elite” athletes and synthesized insights into a video, book, and team space to inspire future offerings.

3. Envisioning user-centered value propositions to evolve current and future offerings.

Led by user insight and fueled by cross-discipline collaboration, modern organizations continuously consider updates to their value propositions and customer targets; identifying opportunities for product extension and market expansion. 

To ensure new directions are not only desirable to users, but also possible and viable for the company to deliver, teams visualize high-level user experiences while assessing new capability needs and investment requirements. 

For Samsung, IA Collaborative designed an omni-channel wearables strategy that led to the development of Samsung’s current wearables product line.

4. Seamlessly integrating new partners into the business ecosystem.

Most acquisitions fail to deliver value greater than their cost of capital. When considering new potential acquisitions or detailing the integration plan for already-acquired businesses, modern companies take a user-first approach toward determining how newly combined assets might be leveraged. 

To create competitive advantage, teams envision opportunities that could enhance current or enable entirely new experiences, offerings, business models, and internal processes. All latent, underutilized assets are uncovered through cross-functional cooperation and diligence. 

Armed with design principles, teams define which components and operating models should remain independent and which should become integrated or divested. Internal user journeys can also be defined to inform operating structures and decision-making processes.

Based on human-centered scenario planning, an integration roadmap is established; maximizing value from the acquisitions while avoiding cannibalization and cultural conflict. 

Oftentimes, teams will initially isolate new acquisitions to preserve value and assess opportunities. Next, teams iteratively incubate aquirees’ ideas within the parent organization, followed by strategic incorporation of key capabilities into their core business. After successful piloting, the last stage is full integration of customer experiences, operations, and cultures.

5. Enabling ideal customer experience through organizational transformation.

When seeking to change the way parts of their organization work, modern companies begin by identifying a bold user-centered vision though cross-functional collaboration. 

Teams facilitate service blueprinting work sessions where user, customer, and partner needs are mapped to customer sales and service capabilities; tools, features, and programs; and operations, policies, and technologies. To activate the vision and blueprint, new collaboration models are often required, bridging organizational silos and establishing new incentive structures and shared goals. 

For United, IA Collaborative traveled over 150,000 miles to observe flyer and agent behavior, established a 5-year vision and rigorous near-term roadmap (product, ops, back-end), and designed an award-winning app and digital ecosystem.

6. Business prototyping to prioritize new online and offline experiences.

Even for digital-first companies, much of a customer’s experience occurs offline. By incorporating lean methodologies with design thinking, modern companies simulate and iterate evolutions — and entirely new versions — of offerings, operations, and profit models. 

Through low-fidelity prototypes, teams make experiences feel 100 percent real to customers (before incurring the expense of new operations or assets) and gain data from “in real life” interactions among customers, employees, and partners. Operating models can also be feasibly tested, where teams are built, trained, and expanded quickly. 

With this iterative approach, leadership gains valuable real-user data, otherwise unavailable without business prototyping. Prototype data indicates which projects have the most merit, and what makes the most sense to fund and scale.

IA Collaborative and Dexcom prototyped a functioning new diabetes management platform “Sweetspot” to define business models, user needs, and operational strategies. This prototype-turned-business-offering is now the only diabetes software integrated with Apple Watch and Apple HealthKit.

Designing for Change, Growth, and Scale 

In summary, by incorporating human-centered design principles within each functional discipline and business unit, companies are signaling priorities and facilitating collaboration across the company. By evangelizing user research and storytelling across the organization, everyone becomes empowered by customer insight to guide their work. By infusing human-centered and systemic thinking within offering, integration, and transformation strategies, teams are envisioning and capturing new and unexpected value. By business prototyping online and offline experiences, leadership is making better-informed product and service investments.

By infusing a design process and mindset throughout their organizations, modern companies are creating a human-centered, systemic culture; and aligning teams to lead change. 

IA Collaborative publishes book "Design for Health: The Beginning of a New Dialogue Between Design and Public Health"
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IA Collaborative + Harvard University: The Critical Role of Design in Public Health

IA Collaborative Founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer Kathleen Brandenburg was a visiting professor in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s “Design of Social Innovation” class, a first-of-its kind course aimed at exploring a new role for design and design thinking within public health.

Patrick Whitney, former Dean at the IIT Institute of Design, invited Brandenburg to guest lecture the course to explore human-centered design strategies with students and apply them in a public health context.

IA Collaborative recently published a book edited by Brandenburg, Design for Health: The Beginning of a New Dialogue Between Design and Public Health, which documents the course and describes how design methods, in collaboration with scientific methods, may provide a revolutionary opportunity to transform public health.

Taking this class set me off on a path of reimagining possibilities for innovation in healthcare and social impact.

  • Shalen De Silva, Harvard alumnus who is currently in the midst of launching a healthcare technology startup named Vincere

Throughout the semester, students explored how contextual design enhances research methods and design thinking illuminates systemic causes of complex problems. They also discussed the power of prototyping and how iterative research methods lead to faster solutions. In doing so, the class created a dialogue between science, design, and public health, empowering its students with new tools they could bring to the real world.

It’s now quite common for me to find myself in a room with clinical experts on one end, business/consulting types on the other, and me acting as a bridge between the two.

Brandenburg is continuing her involvement with the Harvard course in 2019, serving as a visiting professor and guest lecturer.

. . .

Special thanks to the IA Collaborative team members that made the publication of Design for Health: The Beginning of a New Dialogue Between Design and Public Health possible: 

Amy Wicks, Tori Wheeler, Alec Cerminaro, Kit Leitner, Lila Trickle, Rebecca Gimenez, Megan Pryce, and Derek Smith.