Creating a better future requires tackling a number of systemic and persistent challenges, like diversity and inclusion and belonging, unconscious bias, talent development, performance reviews, and the hiring process.
A CEO sought out our help to co-design an accelerator where cohorts of companies could come together to solve shared problems. In the process, she hoped to shift the impact from being on one company to the whole industry. Companies, we posited, could more effectively solve these common areas of friction by working together.
How we did it
As collaborators, we designed a 3-month accelerator program focused on innovation. We introduced our Innovation-ish mindsets, taught the moves and tools of innovation, and provided expert coaching to the teams.
This collaborative element proved key. By learning together and sharing perspectives, participants formed a community of participatory design. Such an environment enabled not just more efficient scaling, but also let teams tell the story of human-centered solutions that make work better.
Companies each embarked on their own business challenge project and along the way they learned new tools, worked independently between sessions, participated in giving and receiving peer feedback from colleagues in other companies and industries, and coaching sessions.
While each team worked on their own challenge, they were addressing common problems they all faced. Sharing these unique perspectives helped them see their problems in new ways and explore new ideas together.
No individual company will coordinate a design team from other industries to solve problems — the investment is too high. Creating the community first is what enabled the collaborative benefits.
Spoiler alert: companies loved it. Diverse cohorts of companies, from the likes of AirBnb, Deloitte, Genentech, and Plum Organics created innovative solutions and shared their own success with the other companies in their cohort. Each company moved forward their own business challenge and had concrete decision and program initiatives such as new onboarding programs, eliminating bias in calibration meetings for performance reviews, creating community guidelines for virtual open source communities. Ultimately, this learning environment helped deliver on the Work Lab promise to make work better.