We are an innovation advisory firm that equips and coaches organizations to apply the principles and practices of Human-Centered Design to:
solve complex problems,
disrupt the status quo,
design extraordinary experiences, and
strengthen their innovation culture and capabilities.
So what does this look like and who might benefit? We explore each focus area below.
Solve Complex Problems
If you've been tasked with addressing a wicked problem, sometimes it's difficult to know where to start. What exactly are we trying to accomplish? Do we have the right data? Who should we involve? Whose support will be critical? What if we have too many options to consider? What happens if we get it wrong? And when are we going to find time to figure it out when we're already overloaded?
We can help.
But first, it's important to know that we don't have the answer to your problem. We believe you do. Or more specifically, your people do. (And by "people," we mean your employees, customers, partners, community leaders, funders, volunteers, or other key stakeholders.) What we bring to the table is a structured, yet flexible process, called a Solution Design Sprint, that unleashes the knowledge and creativity of a diverse set of stakeholders on a specific challenge. We enable Design Sprint participants to develop a shared understanding of "what is" and then create, test, and refine potential solutions in an accelerated, creative, and collaborative way.
How do we do this? Our approach is built around the principles of Design Thinking, also known as Human-Centered Design. We didn't invent it, but we've evolved the methodology to incorporate our collective expertise and experience from a wide range of disciplines, including change management, organizational design, urban planning, risk management, and digital marketing, just to name a few.
Last thing - if you have a relatively straightforward problem, we're probably not the team to call. But if it's the type of challenge that keeps you up at night, and it won't solve itself, we should talk.
Disrupt the Status Quo
In many ways, disruption IS the status quo, but you don't have to take our word for it. Do a mental inventory of the services you rely on today and then ask yourself, "Were they around ten years ago? Five years ago? If not, who did they displace?" Industry after industry, from entertainment to transportation to lodging to data storage to publishing to healthcare to education, sea change is the norm, and it's getting faster and more pervasive. So here's the million dollar question: If you're an established player in your industry, what are you going to do about it? Scan the horizon for potential disrupters and play defense? Search for opportunities to BE the disrupter? Or perhaps do both?
We can help.
We'll show you how to spot disruption threats and guide you through evaluating potential options, regardless of your place in the food chain today. We'll also coach you on how to uncover unmet or unarticulated needs that represent disruption opportunities. Sometimes the prudent thing is to identify and manage your risks. Other times, you may need to take a blowtorch to your product, service, process, or business model before someone else does.
It's easy to miss what you're not looking for, so let us help you see farther, look closer, and innovate faster.
"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."
- W. Edwards Deming
Design Extraordinary Experiences
As Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore noted almost twenty years ago, we live in an Experience Economy. Brands ranging from Apple to Southwest Airlines to Zappos have shown time and again that experience can be a differentiator when consumers vote with their wallets. But this is also true for other constituents who have a choice in where they spend their time and resources, such as employees, strategic partners, volunteers, donors, or alumni. The good news is that many of the same tools used for customer experience design, such as ethnography and journey mapping, are applicable in other settings, as well. The key is to determine what experience you want people to have and then intentionally design the elements and touchpoints that make up the experience.
We can help.
We'll coach you on how to conduct ethnographic research so you can go beyond "Voice of Customer" in order to deeply understand the "Reality of Customer." (We can also conduct research on your behalf, if that better fits your needs.) We'll help you make sense of the data and tease out insights that inform your design efforts. Lastly, by prototyping, testing, and refining concepts, we'll ensure you have the information needed to make informed decisions about what to pursue and what to shelve.
"The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design."
- Adam Judge
Strengthen Innovation Culture and Capabilities
It's one thing to address a specific challenge or opportunity, it's quite another to transform how your team or entire organization approaches innovation. Carrying out sustainable culture change is a heavy lift and requires you to impact mindsets, toolsets, and skillsets. It takes a concentrated effort and resilience in the face of the obstacles and mini-failures that always accompany efforts to change how organizations operate. It's not easy and results don't magically happen overnight. Developing a culture of innovation also requires equipping your people with new knowledge and skills and empowering them to apply what they've learned.
We can help.
We'll work with you to define your innovation goals, assess your organization's current state, and then develop a plan to get you where you want to be. We'll also help your team adopt and reinforce new behaviors so that the gains you make don't give way to the organizational antibodies that often attack any effort to change "the way we've always done things here."
"Change before you have to."
- Jack Welch
Training & Public Speaking
Either as standalone courses or in conjunction with building a culture of innovation, we develop and conduct training that is tailored to your organization's needs. We also deliver keynotes and breakout presentations for conferences, community gatherings, and leadership retreats.
We cover topics such as:
Overcoming Barriers to Innovation
Spotting Opportunities Hiding in Plain Sight
Critical Thinking for Effective Decision Making
Designing "Wow!" Experiences
Building Creative, Collaborative Teams
Strategic Planning by Design
Stories That Stick: Designing Effective Presentations
Click on the link to view brief descriptions of the courses we offer.
When convening a group for a high-stakes meeting, sometimes it's valuable to bring in an external facilitator to design and orchestrate the proceedings. We draw upon our range of knowledge and experiences to build and facilitate an agenda that will creatively engage participants while also delivering the desired outcomes. Whether it's a board retreat, community listening session, or a strategic collaboration among multiple stakeholders, we can help.