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In its 30-year history, the global design consultancy Ideo has gone from designing products, to experiences, to transforming systems using a human-centered methodology. Now, the firm is upping the ante, increasingly designing for behavioral change.


Last year, it jump-started savings at Bank of America with its "Keep the Change" program. This year, it's taken on some big challenges for clients in energy, government and transportation, working with the DOE, TSA, and CDC.

"Shifting behavior in these domains depends on creating opportunities to participate as well as consume," says Ideo's Whitney Mortimer. "We're looking to design for a level of engagement where people become agents of change or advocates. Younger people, in particular, seek a deeper, more meaningful connection to the organizations and initiatives they support."

Among Ideo's recent work:

  • Working with the Department of Energy to get consumers excited about saving energy, framed as something people want to do, not feel obligated to do. Look for evidence of this later in 2009.
  • Designing a "Smart Gauge" for the Ford Fusion that teaches people to drive in a way that results in better fuel efficiency and have fun doing it.
  • Creating an interactive music experience for (RED) that lets subscribers connect with friends to build a video around new music—while simultaneously showing how many lives they've saved through (RED)'s Global Fund.