Start small start now

Change is a word we throw around a lot this time of year. We often have lofty ambitions for things we want to do differently, but don’t know how to get started in realizing those goals. 

At IDEO, we start with a beacon—a small, tangible win that builds the momentum you need to move from a little change to a big transformation. 

Let’s give you an example: Years back, IDEO was exploring ways to spread design thinking to enable people all around the world to work collaboratively on tough challenges. But we didn’t know whether we had convening power online. 

Leadership had a strong intuition that said yes, we do, but, you know, investing in a digital platform isn’t pocket change unless you have solid evidence for it. Before we made that leap or even devised a business strategy, we needed to answer a critical question: 

Do we have convening power?

To test this, we posted a challenge on a Facebook page and measured activity engagement over a two day period. By the end of the 48 hours, we had received over 1500 followers and the dialogue and engagement was rich. We had our answer: yes, there’s potential here. Not only that, the continued success of this page was a powerful symbol for our company. It would help us gain the necessary traction and buy-in to create OpenIDEO—a global community working together to design solutions for the world’s biggest challenges. 

But it all started with a symbol that then grew into something much bigger. 

That’s the power of beacons. 

Here are a few steps for creating your own. 


Step 1. Identify what you want to change.  

Step 2. Brainstorm ideas of things you can create or do in pursuit of this change.

Step 3. Choose one of these ideas based on its potential to be a beacon. 

Step 4. Build it out, try it, test it, and then see how it resonates. 

Step 5. Share a beacon for the change you want to create in the new year. 


Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small. Start now. 


Watch a lesson from our online course Designing for Change on creating beacons for change.


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Foundations In Design Thinking - IDEO U Certificate
Designing Strategy Course from IDEO U