what we do


Define the
Future

(and how to get there)

 
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You’re not innovating for yesterday. You’re looking at today, tomorrow and five years from now. To get there, we look to specific research findings, balanced against what’s technically feasible, financially viable and sustainable long-term—along with our informed intuition—to anticipate possible futures and design for them.

 

How We Define the Future

No one knows for sure what’s going to happen next. But if we understand what people need, look for patterns, make a good plan and follow it, we’ve got a pretty good shot at success.

 


Start at the Beginning

Understanding user need and balancing viability, feasibility and sustainability can yield innovative results.

Some companies have an inkling of an idea but need to start almost at the beginning to find out what they should do next. Tyson Foods saw a potential opportunity in the food waste problem, but didn’t have much beyond that. We guided them through the research process to understand what was needed, explored different product and service models, and ultimately helped them create a new product and brand called ¡Yappah!.


Innovate Incrementally

Understanding what people do before, during and after interacting with your offering can indicate opportunities.

Some companies already have an offering on the market and need to understand what the next iteration will be to stay relevant. ChapStick wanted to understand future lip balm opportunities. Levy Restaurants wanted to know how to keep food service relevant. Northern Trust wanted to better serve their asset management clients in Europe. BD wanted to find new ways to support neonatal infants, their families, and professionals. In each of these examples, we followed our design thinking process to develop innovative solutions that delivered tangible value in the near term while teeing up a roadmap for continued innovation.


Activate the Strategy

Sometimes there’s a clear vision and a starting point, but figuring out the “how” requires a little more focus.

Sometimes organizations know what they need to do and need help making it happen. The Chicago Community Trust (CCT) knew they were uniquely positioned to connect resources with needs in Chicago, but weren’t sure of the best way to get the right resources got to the right places at the right time. So we helped them develop an approach that enabled not only CCT to deliver on their focus areas, but also a wide range of other NFP organizations in the city. Trellis RX had a new pharmacy model but needed to understand how to best integrate it to their rural customers’ needs and lifestyles. We helped them develop a pharmacy that went out to the people.


Slow Down to Speed Up

Sometimes the company is too far ahead of its users and needs to reorder priorities so that everyone can move forward.

Sometimes companies think they know what they need, but once we do some research with them, they discover that they’ve let their business needs get ahead of user desirability, technical feasibility or long-term sustainability and they need to take a step back to recalibrate. Inventables was ready to launch a new offering on their website, but after talking with users, it became clear that while, yes, the project should go forward, some other work had to be done first to ensure its success. Finding that out before the offering went to market was worth the minor timing setback.