8 IDEO U Learners Using Design Thinking to Transform Their Organizations

8 IDEO U learners using design thinking to transform their organizations

At IDEO U, we believe in learning by doing—taking what we learn and applying it to real challenges in the world. We’re constantly amazed by the ways our learners are using the lessons they’ve taken from our courses to change their teams, organizations, and communities. Here are 8 IDEO U learners who are applying design thinking mindsets to business, storytelling, and other aspects of their work.


1. Taylor prototyped her message for her TEDx presentation


A creative director and author, Taylor used the lessons she learned on presenting from Impactful Presentations to shape her TEDx Talk on why we fear public speaking. When the pandemic happened, Taylor had to adapt how she delivered her talk for a virtual audience rather than a room full of people. 

“If people just hear a lot of details and context, it is information alone. But when they understand that there's a human being with meaning and intention, they're more likely to connect with the story or presentation.”
Taylor’s presentation advice

Read more about Taylor’s story with her TEDx talk and book.


2. Jing incorporated user research to create audio stories that resonate


As a designer, Jing was tasked with designing a more engaging way for people with paralysis to go through physical therapy. She created interactive audio stories, where listeners would perform exercises that followed the narrative of the story. Through Storytelling for Influence, Jing refined the audio stories for different audiences. 

“One interesting thing for me was understanding your audience. In our project, we had to think about how to create a story that's appropriate for each kind of audience.”
Jing’s storytelling advice

Read more about Jing’s story of making physical therapy more engaging.


3. Adolfo introduced creative collaboration to transform his team’s culture


As someone in marketing, Adolfo makes creative assets for e-commerce, packaging, catalogs, and social media for clients across Latin America. After getting promoted to lead a team of five, Adolfo took Cultivating Creative Collaboration and changed the team’s collaboration style from one where everyone worked on these assets by themselves to one where people started to share their ideas with one another. 

“We set team agreements, because we hadn't really thought about the best ways for us to work together and what we wanted from each other. It brought to light many things that we weren’t considering before and helped us redefine how we were working.”
Adolfo’s collaboration advice

Read more of Adolfo’s story about how he changed his team’s ways of working.


4. Genia crafted her story to raise funding for her business


Genia founded Rock County Jumpstart to help Black business owners find resources, mentors, and tools for their businesses. While taking Storytelling for Influence, Genia crafted the story of how her grandmother’s small business inspired her to start her own, which attracted funders who loved her story. 

“Your story is your story, and hold onto it. You might have people who don't like it, but be authentic and tell authentic stories.”
Genia’s storytelling advice

Read more about Genia’s story on finding the right story for her business.


5. Isabela collected user insights to create a better app for seniors


Isabela is a product manager who develops software and apps for seniors who live in senior living communities, empowering them to be more independent and more connected. Because there aren't a lot of studies on usability for seniors, Insights for Innovation inspired Isabela to get to know the seniors they work with better and understand their needs. 

“Before you get to a solution, put down your bias and really dig into the problem. If we are able to do this, we will be better human beings and professionals.”
Isabela’s advice on surfacing insights

Read more of Isabela’s story about making seniors more connected.


6. Donna used collaboration to guide complex media projects


Donna, a former media executive, reflected on how important it was to create relationships with people in her organization in order to get a seat at the table and lead teams through impactful media projects. After Leading Complex Projects, Donna’s now coaching the next generation of leaders and guiding a business that creates intergenerational connection. 

“People are complex. Projects are complex. How can we create a bridge with people so we can understand a little bit of their complexity and they can understand a little bit of ours? It’s about building relationships with people in your organization.”
Donna’s leadership advice

Read more about Donna’s story of her experiences in the media industry.


7. Karishma led ideation workshops to encourage more innovative ideas


An innovation strategist, Karishma works with a team of intrapreneurs to build blockchain solutions in the gaming industry. Looking for frameworks that would help the team navigate through ambiguity, she took Designing a Business and is facilitating more ideation sessions and workshops that get her team innovative and encourage them to think outside the box. 

“Push yourself out of your comfort zone and see how far you can go. When you embrace your vulnerability and individuality, that's when the best in you is brought out.”
Karishma’s advice on business innovation

Read more about Karishma’s story on helping her organization innovate.


8. Madeleine ran experiments to test her strategy before implementing it


Madeleine is an OKR coach who helps organizations set objectives and key results. During Designing Strategy, she built her company’s strategy. She’s now using what she learned to help others overcome their own business challenges. 

“Experimentation and validation of ideas. Doing small experiments with strategy is good, because you're not wasting your money or time. You're doing a little to confirm that it's a good option for you or your company.”
Madeleine’s strategy advice

Read more about Madeleine’s story of how she developed her company’s strategy. 


Read more stories from our learners or follow IDEO U on Instagram @ideo_u for more inspiring design thinking resources, events, and stories.

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Business Innovation - IDEO U Certificate
Human-Centered Strategy Certificate