Inside IDEO’s kyu Futures 5-Day Design Sprint

Hosted by IDEO, the current kyu Futures curation focuses on creating tools that enable kyu companies to better share knowledge and insights across the collective. Positing that knowledge-sharing is critical to building more impactful client relationships, the IDEO team chose to apply the lens of healthcare as a specific sector to focus creative efforts.

On June 24, fifteen designers from across RedPeak, SYPartners, SidLee, BEworks, Infrared, and IDEO met with 13 external health experts to home in on a list of the 12 most important future-facing questions in health. This was the first step in growing our collective impact in the health sector, and an investment in our total ability to solve increasingly complex questions. A few key questions that emerged included:

·       How might we rejuvenate the health profession?

·       What if health was defined by vitality, not the absence of sickness?

·       Does the company that owns your health data own you?

Following the first convening, IDEO then held a design sprint in IDEO Cambridge’s CoLab Space from August 12-16 to bring knowledge sharing tools around health to life. (For those who don’t know, a design sprint is a full-time intense experience working with a team to create a functional prototype in a short amount of time. This sprint used a codified 5-day Design Sprint Process, which you can read more about here.) Twenty designers joined the sprint, representing IDEO, RedPeak, Digital Kitchen, and SYPartners.

Day 1: Breaking the Ice

All participants gathered in IDEO’s CoLab space by noon. After quickly getting to know the group, everyone was divided into teams and given a warm-up activity to quickly learn each other’s working styles. Based on the premise of “Waterworld,” each group had to design and create one prototype to problem-solve for life if the world was completely underwater. After presenting and discussing Waterworld prototypes, the teams spent the rest of the day brainstorming for the true task at hand.

Each group was assigned a different focus area:

·       Convening Playbook: examining how to gather stakeholders to uncover questions in health;

·       Capture Tools: addressing how to gather knowledge and insights from stakeholders;

·       Knowledge-Sharing Tool: uncovering how to best disseminate discoveries and insights to stakeholders.

Day 2: All In

Tuesday was filled with more brainstorming and prototype planning, as well as expert interviews to help guide project direction. Experts from within the Collective, such as SYPartners’ Keith Yamashita, as well as from outside, such as MIT Media Lab’s Pip Mothersill, spoke with the teams to answer any questions and give any possible insights.

In between interviews, the room was full of constant typing and seemingly frantic outlining on Post-It note. This hard work was evident as groups made and remade their prototypes, responding quickly to new ideas or inspiration.

Day 3: Final Countdown

After ongoing construction in the morning,  each team then presented the current state of their prototypes to their fellow sprinters, as well as design experts from IDEO Cambridge for feedback. The goal of the share out was to both make sure that each sprint team’s prototype fit well with the other teams, and gain constructive feedback from outside parties on the prototypes’ design and feasibility.

The teams concluded the day by downloading the feedback received, and outlining their planned adjustments for the next day.

Day 4: Sharing Our Work

Thursday marked the culmination of hard work, with a science-fair style presentation of finalized prototypes scheduled for the afternoon. Construction was finalized digitally and physically, as websites were built and model convening stages were set. Teams user-tested their prototypes, and adjusted as necessary to perfect their projects before the afternoon deadline.

As the science fair rolled around, experts from the collective gathered in IDEO’s CoLab, including kyu CEO Michael Birkin. Each group presented their prototype, explaining their goals and thought processes behind them. Attendees were able to test out the prototypes as well. The capture team built interactive and creative information-gathering tools to be used at convenings, such as an idea capture booth that allowed participants to verbally share their thoughts privately and on-record. The convening team set the stage for a real-life conference, and collaborated with the knowledge sharing team on a website that highlighted the health issues being addressed and the information gathered about these topics.

Positive feedback from attendees led into a celebratory happy hour as the sprinters enjoyed the conclusion of their hard work. 

Day 5: Success

On Friday morning, the sprinters spent the morning reflecting on their experience. All agreed that while the experience was extremely challenging, it proved to be extremely rewarding. The prototypes created have the potential to be very useful, and participants felt successful in their efforts. With continued work and collaboration, they can be put into play to gain insights about the pressing health challenges of our time. 

John Breen, RedPeak’s Executive Director of Health Strategy, said: “I was amazed by what we were able to create over what amounted to 96 short hours, and very excited to see how we’re going to put it into action.”