Design and Innovation at Transform 2012

A report by Jeremy Beaudry, Director of MiD

I have recently returned from an energizing few days attending Transform 2012, the annual conference on innovation and design in healthcare hosted by the Mayo Clinic and its Center for Innovation (CFI). Now four years on, the Transform conference has emerged as a powerful convening of a number of leading individuals and organizations who are striving to shift they way we think and talk about health, and the ways we care for people and manage our health. And — no surprise here — designers are playing an increasingly important role by using our processes, methods, and tools in collaboration with a range of healthcare professionals and patients to reimagine healthcare across the globe.


There are many reasons to attend Transform: to hear from a wide range of dynamic speakers, to learn about case studies demonstrating new approaches to healthcare, to see firsthand how a premier medical institution like the Mayo Clinic pursues innovation through design, to connect (and reconnect) with people whose work is vital to the transformation of health. In my capacity as Director of the MiD program, I was particularly focused on sharing with others the tremendous work that our students and faculty do as they bring design thinking, methods, and tools into the many partnerships that are the foundation of our studio projects. I also wanted to learn from industry professionals (designers and non-designers) about what qualities and competencies they look for when hiring young designers into their organizations. I heard about the need for designers who have a rigorous design research methodology, who can synthesize qualitative and quantitative data and make sense of it in visual formats, who are masters of communication, collaboration, and facilitation, and who can move through an iterative design process grounded in prototyping and testing. We use this anecdotal information to help gauge our learning objectives and outcomes, and then we apply this knowledge toward the continual improvement of the curriculum and offerings for our students. (I was pleased to be able to respond to many of these fact-finding conversations with clear examples of how our students demonstrate all of these competencies.)

I had the added pleasure of travelling with my colleagues in The Action Mill to Transform, and of using that time for a number of intensely focused conversations on the current and future states of our business as well as the emerging vision for how we, as a strategic design studio, shape new ways of being in the world through a design perspective that, in J. Paul Neeley’s words, considers everything. (More to come on that!) And, of course, all of this thinking and doing in the Action Mill feeds into how I think about the MiD program (and vice versa). Working alongside so many other amazing individuals and inspiring organizations like those I met at Transform, designers can humbly use our point of view, methods, and tools to guide powerful transformation for social good within the health sector and beyond.

Finally, I will thank the many wonderful people I met who impressed me with their inspiring words and work: J. Paul Neeley (see his talk here), Todd Wilkens and the rest of the Mayo Center for Innovation team (hi Molly and Liz!), Denny Royal and Lisa Helminiak at Azul 7, Natalie Doud at Catalyst Studios, and Liz Gerber at Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University and Design for America, James Agutter at the University of Utah, and many more. Here’s to continuing the conversation.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2012 at 3:31 pm.