Insights for Innovation

Learn to use insights to turn customer needs into human-centered solutions
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Insights for Innovation is at the heart of what IDEO is known for—human-centered design. This 5-week course, an in-depth focus on the first phase of design thinking, will ground you in the needs of the people you’re creating for. Develop empathy for your customers and surface insights for creating products and services they want and need.

Course Outcomes
  • Better understand the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of your customers.
  • Develop ideas for innovative products and services by keeping your customer needs at the center of the development process.
  • Uncover deeper insights by planning and conducting great customer interviews.
  • Inspire others through a well-crafted narrative about the insights you surfaced.
Skills You’ll Gain
Empathy Interviewing Customer Research
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.

Go Deeper with Certificate Programs

Insights for Innovation is part of three certificate programs:

What You'll Learn


In this lesson, you'll get a brief overview of the course, be introduced to IDEO's approach to innovation, explore the power of insights, and choose your project challenge from a list of five options.
Watch a sneak peek
  • Insights for Innovation—A taste of the learning experience
4 Video Lessons
  • Insights Fuel Innovation—Why seeing with new eyes matters
  • Introducing the Project Challenge —Learning by doing through a project
  • Assessing Your Progress—How creatively confident are you?
  • About Your Instructors: Coe Leta Stafford & Jane Fulton Suri
1 Assignment
  • Choose Your Challenge: We’ve crafted a series of project challenges for you to choose from, all designed to be the right size and scope for this course. You'll practice your selected challenge during the course and later you can bring your learning into your own work.

2 Discussions
  • How might seeing with fresh eyes help shape the way you, your team, and organization works?

  • Everyone’s creative journey is different. How do you rate your own creative confidence?

Week 1: Observe

Observing is listening with your eyes. In this lesson, you'll discover how to observe others and unlock your curiosity.
6 Video Lessons
  • Practice Observing
  • Getting Curious—What’s in your bag?
  • Practice Interpreting—Part 1: Whose life?
  • See what an Expert Sees—Part 2: Whose life?
  • Compare an Observation to an Interview—Part 3: Whose life?
  • 6 Tips for Observing—What to look for in the real world
1 Assignment
  • Practice Observing: Get out in the world and start observing your target audience and their behaviors.

6 Discussions
  • What helps you get into a curious and non-judgmental mindset?

  • Share what’s in your bag, and see what you can observe about a fellow learner’s bag.

  • How might the observation exercise impact the way you approach insight gathering in your work?

  • As you practiced observing, what were you curious about and how did these moments help you get to deeper places?

  • What tips do you have for observing others?

  • Did you have any "a-ha moments"? What do you personally find most challenging about listening with your eyes?

Week 2: Interviewing

Learn how to conduct an interview that helps you uncover someone’s deeper needs and values.
2 Video Lessons
  • An Interview Gone Wrong—And how to make it right
  • 5 Tips for Interviewing—Conducting an awesome conversation
1 Assignment
  • Conduct an Interview: As you plan and conduct an interview, think back to our tips for interviewing and how you might use these to get to deeper, more honest answers.

2 Discussions
  • How do you know when an interview is going poorly? How might you turn it into an insightful and meaningful conversation?

  • Why is it important to be in tune with your presence when interviewing? How might you enhance your own self-awareness as an interviewer?

Week 3: Empathy

Learn how to immerse yourself directly into another person’s experience to evoke empathy.
3 Video Lessons
  • Why Empathy Matters—A visceral way to inspire action
  • An Exercise in Empathy—Cycling commutes around the world
  • 4 Tips for Empathy Immersion—Ways to experience new perspectives
1 Assignment
  • Conduct an Empathy Experience: Design and conduct an empathy experience to better understand a different perspective.

4 Discussions
  • What does empathy mean to you? Can you think back to a time in your personal or professional life when you developed empathy for someone else's experience?

  • How did you feel when watching three individuals on their daily bicycle commutes? What differences or similarities did you notice?

  • How might you use or adapt one of the techniques for empathy immersion to gain insight for your project challenge?

  • What's challenging about walking in someone else's shoes? What ways might you practice empathy in your daily life?

Week 4: Insights

Share compelling, quality insights that will inspire and motivate others to innovate.
2 Video Lessons
  • The Anatomy of an Insight—Leveraging what you’ve learned
  • 4 Steps for Summarizing Insights—Narrow down and make sense of it all
1 Assignment
  • Final Project: Move through the ‘Steps for Summarizing Insights’ to narrow down and create 1-3 insights for your final project.

3 Discussions
  • Did you use visuals to bring your story to life? Consider how you might amplify your audience's connection with the people and the problem through thoughtful visual storytelling.

  • What was challenging about capturing insights?

  • In your own words, what makes for a compelling insight?

Week 5: Conclusion

Learn how to continue to refine your skills over time and use your insights out in the world.
1 Video Lesson
  • Course Conclusion—But insights are just the beginning!
1 Discussion
  • What was the biggest challenge you faced in gathering insights? How will you apply what you've learned to a current challenge in your life or work?

Meet Your Instructors

Jane Fulton Suri

Partner Emeritus & Executive Design Director at IDEO

Jane founded IDEO’s practice of human-centered insights in 1987, pioneering approaches that spread throughout organizations across the globe. To increase access to this approach, Jane published IDEO’s Method Cards and Thoughtless Acts. Jane holds a B.A. (Hons) in Psychology at the University of Manchester and an M.Sc. in Architecture at the University of Strathclyde.

More About Jane

Coe Leta Stafford

Partner at IDEO & Executive Design Director of IDEO U

Since joining IDEO in 2006, Coe Leta has led numerous creative teams across diverse organizations including Microsoft, Target, Intel, Wells Fargo, Ford, Sesame Street, and Government and Healthcare groups. Coe Leta has a Ph.D. in Education from UC Berkeley and guest lectures at Stanford University’s d.School.

More About Coe Leta

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

Loved by Learners Across the Globe

Katherine Howell-Kiser
Katherine Senior Art Director Copacino + Fujikado, Advertising Agency
Juston Espinoza
Juston Sr. eLearning Specialist Spectrum Health
Helen Ulan
Helen Digital Strategist DMI, Information Technology
Dr. Colleen Holt
Dr. Colleen Lecturer La Trobe University
Insights for Innovation
Cohort Course

“The IDEO U course I took on insights has helped improve the way I approach brainstorming and analyzing the consumer journey. This has allowed me to reach conclusions and propose ideas I might not previously have thought of. I feel the course has helped me approach my work through a more human lens.”

Katherine Seattle, WA
Insights for Innovation
Cohort Course

“The topics and tools covered go much more in depth than anything I learned ‘trial by fire.’ Each module left me buzzing with ideas of how I could instantly apply this to my role and share with my team. I've already put some of these ideas in motion to innovate my team's educational offerings.”

Juston Grand Rapids, MI
Insights for Innovation
Cohort Course

“The course material and assignments coupled with a collaboration space made it easy to fit the experience into my work schedule. The course material was logically thought out and presented, giving the student the power to delve as deeply into the subject matter as allowed by personal and professional constraints.”

Helen Washington, D.C.
Insights for Innovation
Cohort Course

“I really found the techniques suggested helpful, and very clearly explained. It provides you with a practical introduction to gathering insights. All the suggested techniques are quite achievable, so you feel empowered to actually go and do it!”

Dr. Colleen Melbourne, Australia

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Enroll As a Team

How to Enroll as a Team