Looking for help in your organization?
Dr. Altringer works with organizations outside of academia in a number of ways. Note students in the lab do not participate in consulting work.
1. Keynotes or talks at your event
Talks can be on introductory human-centered design, introductory or advanced methods for designing for desirability, examples of how human values are embedded in the products and services we create and use, design for behavior change, managing the challenges of leading multi-disciplinary innovative projects, managing the psychological biases that trip us up on innovative projects, designing human technology interfaces, and more. With smaller groups, talks are often custom-designed and highly interactive.
2. Custom-designed workshops to train your team to overcome current challenges
Dr. Altringer enjoys creating hands-on workshops. These can train people in design for desirability, human-centered design, design for behavior change or multi-disciplinary innovative project leadership. This usually involves preparatory conversations to understand your challenges and constraints, and then on-site work for a half day to multiple days as needed. More often than not, these projects begin because the organization has discovered specific data showing that their current approach is not working as intended and we design a workshop to help them understand why they are seeing low engagement and how they might better design their product or service.
3. Consulting services
Dr. Altringer takes on consulting projects from time to time. Past examples include a large global supermarket chain, a major publishing outlet, a leading fashion conglomerate, a global motorcycle conglomerate, a national healthcare conglomerate, and a global sports competition. Consulting can involve desirability analysis of a product or service you are creating (e.g. of the multi-sensory, cognitive and emotional experience); meetings that connect your team to useful research and practical examples; or guiding a human-centered design field project. These projects are usually under NDA, but a public example was with Kering, Gucci Group and Puma. Go to: Learn more about design for desirability in practice with Kering, Gucci Group and Puma.
At Harvard, Altringer teaches over 100 multi-disciplinary groups a year through research and practice to understand the emotional and multi-sensory desirability of their product or service, to recognize and troubleshoot their own technical and interpersonal issues as they arise, and to manage decision-making in uncertain environments effectively. Her goals are the same when coaching professional teams.
5. Leading the early stage of a radical project (or helping you find someone who can)
For projects inside companies that involve a radical change in direction, it can be helpful to have outside leadership that can push the project in new ways without fear of getting fired. Dr. Altringer has first-hand experience with diverse approaches to stimulating early-stage innovation and can help you figure out what makes sense for your context (she’s spent years studying the pros and cons of the design thinking process made famous by IDEO, has written on the entrepreneurial ‘design’ approach of OneLeap (and later joined their board), has taught Lean Startup methods, mentored hackathons and competitions, created and served in a variety of incubators, teaches user behavior change models, and has designed and teaches her own desirability models). She seldom takes on roles leading early stage projects due to time constraints, but can be helpful as an advisor. If she does take on such roles, her goal is to encourage transparency and measurable results and ‘design herself out’ by the end of the project, empowering the core team to continue autonomously as she transitions to a coaching role. Go to: Learn more about design for desirability in practice with Piaggio Fast Forward and the Gita robot.
Examples of Past Clients
LUXURY AND SUSTAINABILITY – Kering HOME is an initiative that transformed the holding company and all of its brands, which include Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Puma, Yves Saint Laurent, and many more. The HOME team, of which I was a core member, included the CEOs of Gucci Group (Robert Polet at the time) and Puma (Jochen Zeitz at the time), Head of Kering Americas (Laurent Claquin at the time), and a global conservation expert (Holly Dublin). We formed the strategy for the ‘Unite’ initiative, which became the ‘HOME’ initiative and went on to receive numerous awards listed in the purple box on the right.
Our goal was to move beyond the conventional sustainability approach and promote a new business paradigm whereby the attainment of sustainability drives creativity and innovation, and vice versa, to build businesses that deliver financial, social and environmental returns. HOME created four interconnected programs: Leadership (leading a corporate paradigm shift both externally and internally); Humanity (enhancing the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of communities in Kering’s spheres of operation); Ecology (mitigating Kering’s footprint via reduction, offsets and investing in the environment); and Creativity (creating sustainable solutions to support global sustainability). After building the strategy, we tested it with experts in creative, design, humanitarian and environmental sectors. This led to four major investments. We launched a Creative Sustainability Lab through partnership with Cradle-to-Cradle® to re-think and re-consider product and business development. We offset annual global CO2 emissions from Kering’s Luxury group, PUMA and Kering’s headquarters. PUMA began developing the first-ever Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) account statement, later rolled out across Kering companies. Finally, we launched an annual €10 million budget indexed to dividend evolution to enable continued investment in HOME. The project set a new standard in sustainability and business practice in the Luxury, Sport & Lifestyle and Retail sectors.
Above are several examples of how Kering brands have implemented the strategy we developed.
How Might Robots Help Augment Human Mobility in High Density Cities?
Gita is the human-helping, cargo-carrying robot that our lab director has been leading research and design for since 2015. Altringer was on the founding team along with Harvard colleague and Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF) CEO, Professor Jeffrey Schnapp. PFF launched Gita publicly in February 2017 and it has since won several awards (Design Boom Top 10 Robots of 2017, Spark Design Awards, Extreme Tech Awards, MITx “Disruptive Genius: Company”, finalist for the London Design Museum’s Beazley Design of the Year Award, and more) and been featured in Time, CNN, Wired, the Wall Street Journal and others. PFF is a Boston-based lightweight mobility and robotics company funded by the Piaggio Group. Piaggio Group owns Vespa and several well-known lightweight vehicle companies. PFF has a vision of cities where people and goods move around at a human scale, rather than an automobile scale, and where robots are designed to extend human capacity, not replace it. After PFF shifted its focus from research and design to scaling production, in October 2017, Dr. Altringer shifted from the leadership team to an ongoing advisory role and moved on to a new big project. For more about Gita and the current people behind it, visit the PFF website.