Jul 20 Meet Ian, Our New Director of Strategy
Ian brings over fifteen years of innovation experience spanning a myriad of industries and geographies. Before joining Rêve, Ian was the Senior Director of Consulting Services at Motiv Strategies, where he managed customer experience and innovation projects for Fortune 500, non-profit, and government clients.
Ian, in one paragraph could you describe your professional journey? What’s your story?
Where to begin? After growing up in MN and attending college in North Carolina, I spent a few years in Japan before starting a career focused on innovation. I started in the medical technology space working with a few start-up companies that were working on developing and commercializing innovative medical devices. I started my consulting career after business school and have had the great opportunity to work on high profile innovation projects for companies across a wide variety of industries. As I’ve transitioned from traditional product innovation into service and experience design, I constantly look for what is the same and different between developing products and services. One area I’ve really come to appreciate is what it takes to ‘manufacture’ a service, which requires the right configuration of technology, human capital, operations, and organizational design.
Which industries are particularly close to your heart, and why?
Healthcare projects are always interesting for me, in part because of my background in the sciences and medical technology and in part because its such a dynamic industry. Economic, technological, and policy forces are colliding to drive one of the biggest industry transitions that has possibly ever taken place. This means that there are great opportunities for new players to disrupt incumbents and for established companies to seek out new business models to serve new or existing customers in new ways. Helping clients figure where to play and how to win is exactly what Rêve does, so when we work with our healthcare clients, I feel like I have an incredible opportunity to play a role in shaping how healthcare is delivered and experienced in the future.
What was the biggest innovation challenge you have faced in your career, what helped you overcome it?
Without describing any specific client projects, one consistent challenge in innovation projects is that often we don’t know what we don’t know. To succeed, we need to be humble and see reality for what it is and not rely too heavily on our own biases and preconceived notions. Project teams need to be agile and quickly change directions when circumstances dictate. And while many clients ‘get’ innovation, this ambiguity can be unsettling at times. I’ve found that robust documentation of data, insights, and analysis helps construct a picture that helps align client teams on the appropriate path forward. We also work hard to earn our clients’ trust, so by the time we’ve been through the process a few times, this ambiguous discovery process becomes less stressful and even fun for everyone involved.
You have worked in the strategy and innovation space for over fifteen years, with extensive experience in service design. What evolutions have you seen, and how do you see service design evolve in the future?
When I started working in innovation, service design as a discipline was not nearly as established as it is today. In 2015, it seems like every consumer business and most B2B firms have adopted the use of key service design tools such as journey mapping. And there are many companies that see the value of service design as a discipline and are making investments to build internal service design capabilities. I’ve talked to business leaders who are personally building relationships with schools like SCAD, ID, and Stanford’s dSchool in an attempt to attract top service design talent. Other companies have asked for their managers to attend training or work closely with service design consultancies like Rêve on project work so they can learn and apply service design tools more broadly in their roles. In fact, working closely with client teams to build service design skills is a rewarding side-benefit of the work that we do.
After many years working in Washington, D.C. you recently moved back to Minnesota. Why did you choose Rêve as your new professional home?
In my experience, it’s rare to find an organization that is pushing the frontiers of how to apply service design in practice and has a long-standing foundation in strategy. But that’s exactly what Rêve is. Having collaborated with clients and other innovation consultancies on both coasts of the US, I feel like I have a good understanding of what ‘good’ looks like in this industry. As I built a relationship with the team at Rêve, I was thrilled to discover that this world-class firm was here in my hometown of Minneapolis!
We are a company with a very intentional path towards sustainable growth. What are you most excited about contributing to our journey together as we grow?
The Rêve team has accomplished so much in terms of growth, thought leadership, and building a stellar reputation by doing top-notch work for some of the most impressive organizations in the region. My hope is that my skills and experiences will complement the existing capabilities of this well-established team. Together, we have an amazing opportunity to sustain Rêve’s growth trajectory by continuing to do excellent work for clients here in Minnesota and elsewhere—and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.