Innovating with Data

Understand the human behavior behind the data
Preview Course

Understanding how to use data to uncover insights about people can be the difference between a good product or service and a great one. But knowing where to start when deciphering data to surface those insights can be overwhelming.

At IDEO, we approach data with a human-centered lens that enables us to think creatively about collecting, analyzing, and using data to empathize with our customers’ needs and uncover design opportunities.

In this course, you’ll learn to use data to discover unmet needs and gain an understanding of the people behind the data points. Learn to explore rich data insights and share the human stories behind the data that lead to great products, services, and systems.

Do I need to bring my own data?
No, you don’t need to bring your own data to the course. We’ll provide a range of practice data problems to choose from, and each will come with its own practice data set you can work with throughout the course. You can also choose your own data problem and use your data to explore it. We want you to have the flexibility to learn in the best way for you.

Note: This course does not focus on technical data skills like statistical modeling. Instead, it focuses on the skills you need to better collect, analyze, and use data to understand the people behind the data points.

Course Outcomes
  • Use data to inspire new ideas, opportunities, and directions.
  • Frame your question and determine the types of data you need.
  • Discover insights in your data and effectively communicate why they matter.
  • Turn insights from the data into compelling stories and visualizations.
  • Take a human-centered approach to data analysis.
Part of Certificate Programs
Skills You’ll Gain
Customer Insights Problem Framing Data Visualization Storytelling with Data Data Interpretation
Format Online Cohort Course
Start Date
Duration 5 Weeks*
Time 4 Hours/Week
Regular price
Sale price
Unit price
Download Syllabus
*Enroll in any August cohort course or certificate to get exclusive access to our new AI x Design Thinking Workshop Series.

What You'll Learn

Introduction: Innovate with Data

Discover human-centered approaches and principles for using data.
Watch a sneak peek
  • Sketching the Data — A sneak peek of the course
1 Video Lesson
  • Innovating with Data — Learn how IDEO uses data, no matter how big or small, to inform and fuel our innovation practice.
1 Assignment
  • Reflect on Guiding Principles: What new mindsets are needed to work with data in more thoughtful, creative, and responsible ways? Assess your understanding of the five guiding principles for innovating with data and choose one to apply to a case study.

2 Resources:
  • Seeing the Unseen: Data has a history of being created by people for a human purpose. Learn about one famous case from the 19th Century: Dr. John Snow & the London Cholera Epidemic.

  • Demystifying Data: There are common misconceptions when it comes to using data as a resource. Learn how to reframe your thinking to move beyond these myths.

Week 1: Frame the Core Problem

Learn how to frame or clarify a problem, and hone your ability to ask questions that can be explored with data.
3 Video Lessons
  • Start with the Problem, Not the Data — Before jumping into a dataset, learn how to get to the heart of what you’re trying to do by asking a series of exploratory questions.

  • Sketching and Journey Mapping — Learn two human-centered design methods for refining your problem statement: sketching and journey mapping.

  • When Metrics are the Problem — Before you dive into the problem, learn how to check that you're measuring the right thing as well as measuring it in the right way.

1 Assignment
  • Frame Your Core Problem: What problem are you trying to solve with data? Choose from a set of challenges (or create your own) and brainstorm all the questions you have. Use sketching or journey mapping to get a more concrete sense of what to focus on.

3 Discussions
1 Resource
  • Deep Dive on Problem Definition: How precisely do you need to define the problem to get the data you need? How much data do you need to be sure? Develop the intuition to help you answer these questions.

Week 2: Choose the Right Data

Explore ways to leverage data you already have or create new data to address the core problem.
4 Video Lessons
  • Custom or Readymade — Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of existing data and new data, and how to combine them to get the best of both.

  • Using the Data You Have — Learn why repurposing data you already have can be a quick and powerful way to innovate with data.

  • Creating New Data — Learn why collecting new data might be the best option for your innovation challenge.

  • Combining New & Existing Data — Learn how using both types of data together can help you uncover opportunities, make more informed choices, and build the confidence to take action.

1 Assignment
  • Decide What Data to Collect: Based on your refined problem statement, think broadly about what data you could gather and brainstorm all the possible sources. What existing data do you have available that could be repurposed? And what new data would be helpful to collect?

2 Resources
  • Deep Dive on Data Types: Gain a deeper understanding of the characteristics and limitations of new and existing data.

  • Creating New Data Using Surveys: Surveys are unique in that you can use them to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. But surveys can be deceptively complex. Learn some best practices in human-centered survey design.

Week 3: Uncover Deep Insights

Learn strategies for discovering valuable insights in your data that can be transformed into compelling stories and visualizations.
4 Video Lessons
  • Generating Insights from Data — Learn about three methods that can help you uncover valuable insights from data, whether new or existing.

  • Defining Expectations — Learn how defining what you expect to see before looking at any data can be a simple yet powerful way to develop insights.

  • Digging Into Contradictions — Learn how leaning into your curiosity and making sense of these contradictions can help you discover interesting insights in data.

  • Exploring Outliers — Learn how exploring outliers can be a useful way to find insights and opportunities.

1 Assignment
  • Practice Looking for Insights: Generating insights from data is a skill—and like any skill, you can improve it over time with practice. Choose one of the three insight strategies and apply to a practice dataset. What do you notice? What sparks your curiosity?

1 Resource
  • Deep Dive on Outliers & People: It’s important not to label individual people as outliers in data. What you’re seeing is just one aspect of the person. Learn a more holistic way to talk about the people behind the data points, with special focus on segmentation.

Conclusion: Share the Data Story

Get tips for how to effectively communicate your data insights to a wider audience.
1 Video Lesson
  • Communicating Your Insights — Learn how to strike the right balance between an aggregate view of the data and individual human stories.

1 Assignment
  • Craft and Share the Data Story: Use a blend of data types to communicate a set of insights. Define the audience and what they need to know. Sketch ideas for how to visually present the data. Share a prototype of your story with others to get feedback and iterate.

1 Resource
  • Gallery: Data Visualizations: Learn some best practices for choosing and designing data visualizations, and get inspired by our gallery of examples from across IDEO and beyond.

Meet Your Instructors

Andrea Dinneen

Former Design Director, Data Science at IDEO

Andrea co-led IDEO’s data science practice, with a particular focus on research and insights. Whether improving financial wellbeing or designing citizen-centric technology, the heart of Andrea’s work has always been about helping people use data and data systems to make better decisions. Andrea has an MA in Sociology from UCLA and a degree in Sociology and History from Rice University.

More About Andrea

Bo Peng

Former Senior Portfolio Director, Data Science at IDEO

Bo works at the intersection of data science and human-centered design, and is passionate about using data as a resource to improve the way we work, play, and think. She co-leads IDEO’s data science practice. Bo holds an MS in Statistics and a BS in Mathematics from the University of Chicago and was named one of Crain's 2019 Tech 50.

More About Bo

Frequently Asked Questions

We offer three types of courses: self-paced courses, cohort courses, and certificate programs. Cohort courses run on a set calendar, with fixed start and end dates. Course learning is self-paced within those dates and requires approximately 4-5 hours per week over 5 weeks. Courses consist of videos, activities, assignments, access to course teaching teams, and feedback from a global community of learners. There are also optional 1-hour video Community Conversations, held weekly by the teaching team. 

All of our cohort courses are fully online, so you can take them from any time zone, anywhere in the world. With our cohort course experience, while you'll be learning alongside other learners, you'll still have the flexibility to work at the pace that fits your own schedule. There aren’t mandatory live components, so you don't have to worry about having to log in at a specific time. At the same time, you'll have access to a teaching team, which is composed of experts in the field who are there to provide you feedback, and there are also plenty of options to connect with your fellow learners.

Course instructors have a strong presence in the courses through the course videos, but they're not actively providing feedback or holding direct conversations with our learners. We have a teaching team to ensure that you have the feedback, guidance, and support you need to learn successfully in your course. Our teaching team members are design practitioners that have experience applying course methods and mindsets in a wide variety of contexts around the world.

Our teaching team consists of teaching leads and teaching assistants, who are experts in their fields. Many of them have been with IDEO U for many years, and we have selected those who have direct experience with applying the course methods and mindsets in all sorts of contexts around the world. They all go through multiple training sessions by our instructional designers on not only on the subject matter, but also on how to create safe and collaborative learning experiences and environments.

Community Conversations are one-hour live video conversations hosted by the teaching team on Zoom. These happen once per week, with each one having two to three time options to accommodate different time zones. Each week focuses on the lesson that you’ve just gone through, so the output and the content depend on the specific lessons. You'll have the opportunity if you work together with your peers on the tools and mindsets from the course, reflect on what you’ve learned, and also address any challenges that you might be going through.

All course materials, including videos, activities, and assignments will be available while you are enrolled in a course. During the 5 weeks of the course, you will have full access to our learning platform and can refer back to it any time. You will only have access to the course materials while you are enrolled. 

Assignments must be submitted during the 5-week course duration in order for you to receive a certificate of completion.

Absolutely! We have had many teams go through our courses together. For those taking our courses as a team, we provide a number of additional benefits:

1. A Team Learning Guide, developed to provide your team with resources to facilitate offline discussions that complement the in-course experience.

2. A Manage Learners function, which provides visibility into your team's progress within the course.

3. The ability to create a private Learning Circle, which is a closed space for discussion on the learning platform specifically for your team.

For more information, visit our Team Learning page.

We offer a discount when you enroll in multiple courses at the same time through some of our certificate programs, including Foundations in Design Thinking, Business Innovation, Human-Centered Strategy, and Communicating for Impact

You can also enter your email address at the bottom of this page in order to receive updates on future offers or possible discounts. 

After completing a cohort course, you will be able to add it to your “licenses and certifications” on LinkedIn.

We also have certificate programs that consist of multiple courses. After completing a certificate, you will receive a certificate of completion via email as a downloadable PDF within 1-2 weeks of completing the final required course. Certificates are configured for uploading and sharing on LinkedIn.

You can purchase a course on our website using a credit card, PayPal, or Shop Pay. For US customers, we also offer installment plans at checkout if you use the Shop Pay method of payment.

We typically are not able to accommodate bank transfer or invoicing. However, if your order includes 10 seats or more, please contact and our team will be happy to review your request. 

Collaborate with a Global Community

What Others Are Saying

Dean Malmgren
Dean Chief Technology Officer Planet FWD
Liam Zylberberg
Liam Senior Innovation Consultant GHD
Mark Mitchell
Mark Vice President National Association of Independent Schools
Ariana López Rodriguez
Ariana López Business Architect DB Schenker
Innovating with Data
Cohort Course

“Bo and Andrea are masterful at identifying innovative opportunities with data. From discovering human insights that ground the opportunity to assessing the data needed to solve a challenge, they have loads of experience designing intelligent products, services, and systems.”

Innovating with Data
Cohort Course

“This course provided me with a great overview of the skills needed to work with data to come up with innovative solutions to complex problems, ranging from understanding the core problem to be solved, identifying the right data to collect, turning data into meaningful insights and then communicating those insights effectively to drive action by centering the humans behind the data points.”

Innovating with Data
Cohort Course

“IDEO courses I've taken have always been well done. The variety of learning tools/methods (video, reading, practicing, workbook, etc) and the exposure to other students from across the world in all different kinds of industries is really fantastic. And all in a pretty compact period of time.”

Innovating with Data
Cohort Course

“I learned a lot and feel that every two seconds I had an ‘aha moment.’ I think the ‘IDEO effect’ is crucial, inserting so much experience and design thinking into the course. Thank you!”

Ariana López

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How to Enroll as a Team