IDEO U Leaders on Designing for Change

August 5, 2021

Innovation teams often have a vision for a better future, but making that vision a reality involves bringing others on board. Getting people at organizations to talk about change is easy. Meanwhile, effectively moving the needle can be a challenge. So, where do you get started?

Coe Leta Stafford, Senior Design Director at IDEO U, and Dawn Riordan, Executive Director Marketing at IDEO U, shared best practices in a recent InnoLead Master Class. During the conversation, the pair addressed how organizations can leverage design to create big changes at organizations. Four takeaways from the conversation follow:

  • According to Riordan, there are two ways that teams can create changes. The first includes systematic changes, where a mandate comes from the top of the organization. “We call this change by mandates and mandate relies on authority and power to drive change,” Riordan says. “It’s speedy, efficient, structured, and it’s 100 percent necessary at times. The downside is…if you’re not careful, you can disempower people and lose engagement.”
  • The second way teams can create change, Riordan says, is referred to as change through movements. She explains, “Movements use influence, understanding people’s aspirations, and inviting them into the process of change. It empowers people and it grows engagement. And when you change through culture, it’s more sustainable over time, it tends to really stick.” However, she says, this change often takes more time.
  • According to Stafford, change through movements start with passionate people. The initial group of passionate participants attracts more support. As the movement begins to snowball, norms start to shift.
  • Change can also start with small experiments early on. These initial experiments generate tangible wins that will build the momentum teams need to scale from small shifts to big transformations.

For more replays and best practices, see other InnoLead Master Classes.