Innovation Hub Utopias and Dystopias: What Can Go Right (And Wrong) in Setting One Up


Installing an Innovation Hub of one’s own is a growing quest for many organizations – both for those new to the innovation discourse and for those far along on their innovation maturity curve. In all cases, value is generated when organizations construct a built environment that is driven by the belief that placemaking is a powerful intervention in their workplace ecosystem. If you build it, disruption can happen.

InnoLead asked us to put together a vision of what an ideal Innovation Hub could be. Within the overall topic of innovation success and failure, we aimed to capture all of the things that make Innovation Hubs thrive or miss the mark.

Our team of colleagues with expertise in innovation, brand, digital, service, graphic, architectural, and interior design came together in an ideation workshop to collage together everything we have ever seen go right (and wrong) in doing this work. We were surprised by how much truth came forth when we went beyond drawing the space and furniture; in order to capture the essence of our cross-functional learnings, we also included the tools, content, and people occupying that space.

This combination of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking resulted in a wild but realistic world that – on the Innovation Utopian side – strives for perfection. Its counterpart, Innovation Dystopia, acts as a sacrificial scenario to further illustrate the point. So, what did we learn from this? It’s less about what you do and more about how you do it. The culture and activation of an Innovation Hub are what make or break it!

To reiterate the fine print disclaimer: the story, spaces, characters, and incidents portrayed in this illustration are fictitious. Any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. So, if you’re seeing those coincidences in your real life or wish they were coming to life in your organization’s office, here’s everything you’d ever want and never want in an Innovation Hub.

Our guide to Utopias and Dystopias is best viewed on a big screen, or in printed form — there’s a lot of detail. (Click the download below to get an 11×17 PDF.) 


Click the file download below to get this graphic in printable PDF form.


Amanda Ramos is a Contributing Columnist and Innovation Director at Gensler.

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