Tag Archives: IDEO

Building Trust and Collaboration within Innovation Teams

Building Trust and Collaboration within Innovation Teams

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Innovation is the lifeblood of any forward-thinking organization. The ability to generate and implement new ideas is paramount. Yet, the most challenging aspect often isn’t coming up with those ideas but fostering the kind of environment where innovation can thrive. Central to this environment are trust and collaboration. In their absence, even the most brilliant ideas can stall. In their presence, however, teams become a powerhouse of creativity and problem-solving. Let’s delve into the principles and practical steps for building trust and collaboration within innovation teams, informed by illuminating case studies.

The Foundation of Trust and Collaboration

Trust and collaboration stand as the twin pillars supporting a culture of innovation. Trust can be distilled into two primary elements: reliability and psychological safety. Team members need to trust in each other’s abilities and reliability, and they must also feel safe to express their ideas without fear of ridicule or retribution.

Collaboration, meanwhile, thrives on diversity of thought, open communication, and a shared vision. When people from different backgrounds and expertise come together, they bring with them a rich tapestry of ideas and perspectives. Facilitating open communication ensures that these valuable insights are shared and harnessed. A shared vision, on the other hand, aligns the team and gives them a common goal to strive towards.

Case Study 1: IDEO – A Living Laboratory of Collaboration

IDEO, one of the world’s leading design firms, is often cited as a paragon of innovation. Their secret sauce? A unique blend of trust and collaboration.

At IDEO, the philosophy of radical collaboration permeates the organizational culture. Every project is approached with a cross-disciplinary team, drawing individuals from fields as diverse as anthropology, engineering, and graphic design. This diversity ensures a broad range of perspectives and ideas.

To foster trust, IDEO places a strong emphasis on creating a psychologically safe environment. One of the cornerstones of their process is the “Yes, and…” mindset borrowed from improv comedy. This approach encourages team members to build upon each other’s ideas rather than dismissing them. Such a practice not only validates the contributor but also often leads to unexpected and innovative solutions.

For example, when IDEO was tasked with redesigning a shopping cart for ABC’s “Nightline,” team members were encouraged to voice even their wildest ideas. One team member suggested a child seatbelt that speaks to the user in a reassuring voice. Initially, this sounded whimsical, but it led to further exploration of how to enhance the shopping experience with added safety and family-friendliness. The open-minded environment allowed this idea to mature into practical innovations that were incorporated into the final design.

Case Study 2: Netflix – Trust as the Bedrock of Innovation

Another powerful example comes from Netflix, a company that has revolutionized both the DVD rental and streaming service industries. At Netflix, the concept of trust goes beyond just inter-team dynamics and extends to a high-trust corporate culture.

Netflix’s famous “Freedom and Responsibility” culture empowers employees to make decisions autonomously. Leaders trust their team members to act in the company’s best interests without micromanagement. This level of trust is built through rigorous hiring processes, ensuring that only people who fit the company’s values and high standards for performance are brought on board.

One notable instance of this culture in action involved the development of the company’s streaming service. Faced with declining DVD rentals, Netflix needed to pivot quickly. The innovation team was given the autonomy to explore various avenues without constant oversight. They adopted an open and transparent communication model that allowed every team member to contribute their ideas and insights freely. This high level of trust and collaborative spirit enabled them to develop, test, and roll out their streaming service, which ultimately positioned the company for overwhelming success.

Steps to Building Trust and Collaboration in Your Team

1. Cultivate Psychological Safety:

  • Leaders must model vulnerability and openness.
  • Encourage risk-taking and frame failures as learning opportunities.
  • Establish norms where team members listen and build on each other’s ideas.

2. Promote Cross-Functional Collaboration:

  • Include diverse team members from different departments and backgrounds.
  • Create regular opportunities for cross-departmental meetings and interactions.
  • Encourage job rotations or shadowing programs to foster understanding and empathy.

3. Establish Clear, Shared Goals:

  • Co-create a shared vision that the entire team believes in.
  • Ensure that roles are clearly defined, but also flexible enough for collaborative effort.
  • Use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to align efforts and measure progress.

4. Celebrate Success and Reflect on Failures:

  • Publicly recognize both big and small wins.
  • Hold post-mortem meetings to reflect on what went well and what could be improved.
  • Develop a culture of continuous feedback and improvement.

5. Empower Through Autonomy:

  • Give team members the freedom to make decisions and take ownership.
  • Provide the resources and support they need to succeed.
  • Trust in their abilities and judgment, stepping in only when necessary.


Building trust and collaboration within innovation teams is not merely an ideal but a critical necessity for fostering a culture of innovation. As demonstrated by the case studies of IDEO and Netflix, both trust and collaboration can serve as dynamic catalysts for creativity and sustained success. By cultivating psychological safety, promoting cross-functional collaboration, establishing shared goals, celebrating all achievements, and empowering team members, organizations can create fertile ground where innovation not only survives but thrives.

As we look to the future, remember that innovation isn’t just about the ideas themselves but about cultivating an environment where those ideas can be born, nurtured, and brought to fruition. By investing in trust and collaboration, you are essentially investing in the future of your organization.

So, are you ready to transform your innovation teams into high-performing powerhouses? Start with trust and collaboration, and watch as the magic unfolds.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

What is design thinking? – EPISODE FIVE – Ask the Consultant

Live from the Innovation Studio comes EPISODE FIVE of a new ‘Ask the Consultant’ series of short form videos. EPISODE FIVE aims to answer a question that many people struggle to answer or accurately discuss:

“What is design thinking?”

Design Thinking is often misunderstood and sometimes even maligned because too many people think it is a process. It doesn’t help when visuals like this one from the Stanford d.School label it as such:

Stanford d.School Design Thinking Process

Instead design thinking should be thought of as a mindset, or a collection of mindsets, including the novice mindset.

There is a big difference between knowing the design thinking components and being a design thinker. Design Thinking is not a technical skill, it is a collection of soft skills, so buyer beware.

One of the key things to remember about design thinking (or human-centered design) is that it is a highly iterative process intended to leverage extensive prototyping and testing.

Another important thing to remember is that unlike other problem solving methods, good design thinking professionals will spend as much, if not more, time and energy on the problems(s) than on the solution(s).

Preparing to Solve the Right Problem

To help with this I’ve created a Problem Finding Canvas to help you identify all of the potential problems in a particular search area.

It’s available for only $9.99 here in the shop.

}} Click here to watch the video {{

Help Shape the Next ‘Ask the Consultant’ Episode

  1. Grab a great deal on Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire on Amazon while they last!
  2. Get a copy of my latest book Charting Change on Amazon
  3. Contact me with your question for the next video episode of “Ask the Consultant” live from my innovation studio

Below are the previous episodes of ‘Ask the Consultant’:

  1. EPISODE ONE – What is innovation?
  2. EPISODE TWO – How do I create continuous innovation in my organization?
  3. EPISODE THREE – What is digital transformation?
  4. EPISODE FOUR – What is the best way to create successful change?
  5. All other episodes of Ask the Consultant

Accelerate your change and transformation success

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Design Thinking in Action

Case Studies of Companies that Thrive on Innovation

Design Thinking in Action

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced and rapidly changing business landscape, companies are constantly seeking new innovative solutions to stay ahead of the competition. One approach that has gained traction in recent years is design thinking. Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that emphasizes empathy, creativity, and iterative problem-solving. In this article, we will explore how two companies – Apple and IDEO – have successfully implemented design thinking principles to drive innovation and achieve business success.

Apple: Designing for Delight

Apple is synonymous with innovation and design excellence, and much of its success can be attributed to its design thinking approach. From the sleek and intuitive design of the iPhone to the user-friendly interface of the iPad, Apple’s products are known for their attention to detail and focus on user experience. One key aspect of Apple’s design thinking process is its emphasis on empathy – understanding the needs and desires of its customers to create products that truly delight and inspire.

A prime example of this is the development of the iPod. In the early 2000s, Apple recognized the growing demand for portable music players but saw that existing products were cumbersome and hard to use. By conducting in-depth user research and observing how people interacted with music on a daily basis, Apple was able to design a product that revolutionized the music industry. The result was the iPod – a sleek and intuitive device that made it easy for users to access and enjoy their music on the go.

IDEO: Empowering Creativity Through Collaboration

IDEO is a global design and innovation consultancy known for its human-centered approach to solving complex problems. Founded in 1991, IDEO has worked with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies to create innovative products and services that have a lasting impact on society. At the core of IDEO’s design thinking process is its emphasis on collaboration and iteration – bringing together diverse perspectives and ideas to create truly groundbreaking solutions.

One of IDEO’s most famous projects is the redesign of the shopping cart for a major retail chain. By engaging with customers and employees to understand their pain points and frustrations with the existing shopping cart, IDEO was able to develop a new cart design that improved the shopping experience for everyone involved. The new design featured ergonomic handles, self-checkout capabilities, and modular components that made it easy to customize based on individual needs. The result was a shopping cart that not only enhanced the customer experience but also increased efficiency and profitability for the retailer.


Design thinking is a powerful tool for companies looking to drive innovation and achieve business success. By focusing on empathy, creativity, and collaboration, companies like Apple and IDEO have been able to create products and services that truly resonate with their customers and set them apart from the competition. As technology continues to evolve and consumer expectations continue to rise, design thinking will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of business and driving growth and success for companies around the world.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Unsplash

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

From Problem to Solution: Applying the Design Thinking Process

From Problem to Solution: Applying the Design Thinking Process

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s world, where challenges and problems arise daily, organizations and individuals are constantly seeking effective solutions. The traditional problem-solving methods are no longer enough to tackle complex and ambiguous issues. This is where the design thinking process comes into play.

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation and problem-solving. It focuses on understanding the needs of people in order to create innovative solutions that are both useful and sustainable. By applying a structured and iterative approach, design thinking encourages creativity, collaboration, and empathy to tackle problems from multiple angles. Let’s explore two case study examples that highlight the effectiveness of the design thinking process.

Case Study 1: IDEO’s Success with the Palm V

In the late 1990s, Palm Computing faced a significant challenge. Its early personal digital assistants (PDA) were clunky and unintuitive, failing to gain mass market appeal. Palm turned to the design firm IDEO to lead a design thinking process that would transform their product.

IDEO conducted in-depth interviews and observations to understand user needs. They discovered that people wanted a device that was slim, convenient, and easy to use. By shifting their focus from technology-driven features to user-centric needs, IDEO’s team devised the concept of the Palm V.

Through multiple iterations and constant feedback from users, IDEO crafted a sleek PDA that fit in the palm of the hand. The design thinking process allowed IDEO to transform the PDA into an intuitive and user-friendly device. The Palm V became a tremendous success, revolutionizing the PDA market for years to come.

Case Study 2: Airbnb’s Rapid Growth and Disruption

At its inception in 2008, Airbnb faced a challenging problem. The founders struggled to find a scalable business model and to attract users to their home-sharing platform. In search of a solution, they applied the design thinking process.

The founders immersed themselves in their customers’ experiences, staying in homes listed on their platform and meeting with hosts to understand their pain points. By empathizing with both sides of the marketplace, they identified opportunities for improvement.

Through iterative prototyping and constant feedback loops, Airbnb gradually improved its platform, introducing features such as professional photography, guest reviews, and secure payment systems. These enhancements addressed key user concerns, increased trust, and facilitated bookings.

By applying the principles of design thinking, Airbnb not only solved its immediate problem but also disrupted the entire hospitality industry. Today, Airbnb is a household name with millions of listings worldwide.


These two case studies demonstrate how the design thinking process can lead to innovative and impactful solutions. By shifting the focus to users’ needs, using iterative methods, and fostering collaboration, organizations and individuals can tackle complex problems with creativity and empathy. Whether it’s revolutionizing the PDA industry or disrupting the hospitality market, design thinking provides a framework for turning problems into solutions.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.