Lenovo Visioneering


Lenovo, the largest computer manufacturer in China, succeeded for years by selling low-cost PC clones to consumers. With a growing consumer market and expected competition from abroad, Lenovo decided to reinvent itself. The company faced a problem: it did not know what their customers wanted, what their essence was or even what they looked like. Lenovo asked ZIBA to help Lenovo define its next-generation desktop PC, notebook and cell phone so it could better compete on meaning and value, rather than price. ZIBA’s extensive research resulted in a 36-month strategic product plan for each platform as well as a defined segment map (based on behavior, attitudes and values) to guide future development of appropriate products for target consumers. Product lines are now organized around the needs of specific “tech tribes.” This research also gave Lenovo a fundamental understanding of Western approaches to creativity and markets. Within months of the completion of this project, Lenovo cemented its commitment to high-value design by acquiring IBM’s PC (ThinkPad) business unit.

“This was an immersive design research experience, full of energy and creativity in plan and execution. Truly a prime example of researchers in one country effectively researching user aspiration for design in another.”
Jeremy Myerson, professor of design studies, Royal College of Art

Contact: Uani Tillmon
ZIBA Design, Inc

Credit: ZIBA Design, Inc. and Lenovo Group Limited (China)

Women Boomers With Children – Innovating the Customer Experience: Keep the Change

This research project sought to understand how baby-boomer women with children are underserved by banks. The research team found that many mothers had difficulty saving what money they had, whether from a lack of resources or willpower. The results of the study led Bank of America to launch the Keep the Change program. Any purchase made with a Visa debit card is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference is transferred into a savings account—in effect, helping people save money. In less than one year, the program attracted 2.5 million customers, including more than 700,000 new checking accounts and one million new savings accounts.

Contact: Whitney Mortimer

Credit: IDEO and Bank of America

Client: Bank of America

Cockpit, Cabin and Option Packages Research for the Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet

Despite being a start-up, Eclipse Aviation has quickly positioned itself as a technology leader with its vision for a high-performance very light jet. As the first jet was being built, a design team was brought in to collaborate on the interior. In addition to field work, the team generated system rationales that explained the design of each component. As the design of the interior evolved, the system rationales provided a critical reference for understanding how any changes might impact other systems, such as how moving a control half an inch would eliminate storage space for a fire extinguisher. This process helped Eclipse Aviation crystallize a common vision of how the aircraft interior should be resolved, including instrument configuration in the cockpit, lighting, storage and optional packages.

“The Eclipse cockpit provides precisely the assurance passengers pray for when they put their lives in the hands of a pilot: that the chance of an accident or “pilot error”' has been engineered away. Passengers should appreciate that these designers included variables and role playing simulations into the design process, recognizing that even highly trained pilots are people and susceptible to error.”

Michael Schrage, Research Associate, MIT Media Lab

Contact: Whitney Mortimer

Credit: IDEO and Eclipse Aviation

Client: Eclipse Aviation Corporation

Cardinal Pump Experience

Infusion therapy is not about pumps and solutions. It is about delivering care and the broader customer experience. The purpose of this design research initiative was to build a stronger connection between Cardinal Health and the people who use its technology. The research changed the definition of Cardinal's business and redefined success in the eyes of executives.

Credits: Robert Marchant, Goo Sung, Homer Fairley and Arthur Wu, IDSA of Modo Inc.
Client: Cardinal Health
Contact: Bob Marchant:


Beijing 2008 Olympic Games torch

Since its inception in 1936, the Olympic torch has come to represent the history and culture of each host country and city. The design team for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch spent more than a year on its design and technical details. The team was truly multinational, with designers from China, Germany, New Zealand and Singapore, and multifaceted, with backgrounds in industrial design, graphic design, chemistry, engineering, materials, art and history. This project’s approach infused a sleek and modern design with symbols of both Chinese culture and the spirit of the Olympic Games. The color, shape, decoration and texture of the “Cloud of Promise” reflects the spirit of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and its host nation.

Credits: Innovation Design Center of Lenovo (Beijing) Ltd. (China)
Contact: Kino Zhou:


Numico PKU

Numico is a leader in the production of supplements for people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare metabolic disorder that prevents the body from digesting phenylalanine, a naturally occurring component in proteins. Approximately 50 percent of people with PKU stop adhering to their medically necessary diet during their teenage years due to social pressure and the difficulties of finding and eating the right foods. This user-centered research resulted in the development of future brand visions and several potential new offerings

Contact: Katie Clark: Credit: IDEO Client: Numico (United Kingdom)

Project Cooper

Project Cooper was a large-scale synthesis of an extensive amount of research looking to document US and European thyroid surgeons in action. Market research was used to learn what surgeons wanted; ethnographic research to learn how thyroid procedures are performed and identify tacit needs; preference testing evaluated concepts and identified opportunities for improvement, and usability testing validated product usability to meet FDA requirements. The results dramatically influenced the final product, a revolutionary device for fine and delicate surgeries that has demonstrated significant clinical outcomes for users and patients.

"This was outstanding research that was clearly well defined, targeted, planned, executed and tested. This work stood out among all the entries in this category as being the most thorough and effective."

--Stephen Melamed, IDSA, principal, Tres Design Group

Contact: Matt Miller, IDSA: Credit: Industrial Design / Human Factors Group and Cooper Team of Ethicon Endo-Surgery and Design Science Team of Design Science Client: Ethicon Endo-Surgery

Colorblind: Understanding Green

The Colorblind project explored consumers' feelings about all things green and sustainable. Through in-depth in-home interviews and a partnership with an online research firm, the project tapped into the minds of 2,000 consumers to see what role sustainability and green ideology play in their lives, tracing how they impact everyday decisions.

"Unique, self-directed research that will most definitely inform designers and marketers about the real, perceived, and latent consumer understanding of 'green' products and services."

--Stephen Melamed, IDSA, principal, Tres Design Group

Contact: Amy Quigley: Credit: Mark Bates, Rick Robinson, Grant Kristofek, Kristin Heist, Kelly Sherman, Sean Brennan, Julia Sorzano, Gianna Ericson, Mandy Stehouwer, IDSA, Allison Werner, and Afiya Webb of Continuum Client: Mark Bates, Rick Robinson, Grant Kristofek, Kristin Heist,Kelly Sherman, Sean Brennan, Julia Sorzano, Gianna Ericson, Mandy Stehouwer, Allison Werner and Afiya Webb of Continuum.

Designing Stronger Communities

Low-income housing projects–despite the best intentions of architects, planners and their nonprofit operators–have not reliably improved the economic lot of their residents over time. Rather than looking solely to sources like architecture for change, the design team reframed Community Builders’ approach to housing, enabling the organization to foster investment in residents and leverage resident motivations as the driving force for social change. The design team provided a new framework for community development that has succeeded in shifting the client’s focus to designing for social entrepreneurship, rather than social service and paternalistic “assistance.” Our research opens the door to initiatives that reach across demographic lines, and it provides the basis for a market-based model for neighborhood renewal.

Contact: Katie Clark:

Credit: Leslie Witt, Tatyana Mamut, Altay Sendil and Mary Foyder of IDEO for The Community Builders

Lilly Patient Posters

Plakkaat was a research and design project to help Lilly scientists better understand the lives of patients who would use the medications they develop. The project surveyed eight different conditions, with the goal of designing 3 posters for each to convey the patient’s concerns.  The team explored online patient forums and support groups to learn about under-appreciated facets of patients’ lives and therapy.  Feedback came in vivid, unedited language that was not anticipated.  Since the scientists were involved throughout the process, they were exposed to the patients' language, emotions and challenges, which drove them to create raw, true-to-life documents that will be provocative and useful for future work.

“A wonderful example of confined creativity. A tight budget required an innovative approach to research. Wonderful, powerful, emotional.”   --Rhys Newman, IDSA, Nokia

Contact: Katie Clark:

Credit: Ian Dapot and Devorah Klein of IDEO; Carrie Cirbo, James Singell, Bob Nesbitt, Henry Havel, Natarajan Rajagopalan, Leslie King, Melissa Keeney, Robert Ternik, Mark Arrigan and Brian Gould (VMC Consulting Corp) of Eli Lilly and Company