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It’s easy for a design-driven company like ours to quickly adapt new methodologies and refine problem-solving skills through iteration, trial, and error. For Roche, a $30 billion dollar pharmaceutical giant with over 80,000 employees worldwide, change is a bit slower.

The Roche Global Market Insights team spent nearly two weeks in our office in San Diego (in addition to months of consultation) as we provided hands-on training through a series of workshops, ending with a real-world five day Design Sprint. The goal: to empower the Roche team so they could return to their organization with design-thinking methodologies that could transform the way their teams solve problems.

A hands-on knowledge transfer with lasting impact

The time Roche spent on site was invaluable to the participants involved, but in order for this knowledge to be disseminated throughout their organization we created a series of workbooks that contained all the ingredients to our UX recipes. This equipped the team with the confidence to execute these methodologies, and enabled them with the materials to teach what they had learned. All levels of the organization were impacted, including product, development, design, research, marketing, and operations.

A Design Sprint to solve real-world problems

Our Design Sprint challenge: how might Roche use digital technology to improve nutritional education for newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the United States, and one of the leading causes of death. But in many cases, proper diet and lifestyle changes can render type 2 diabetes a non-issue. If we could use design to impact the lives of those suffering, we could begin to shape healthier patient behavior and improve their overall health.

Hands-on work that drives business objectives and solves problems

It’s one thing to read about design thinking, and another to actually put it to practice. Through the workshops and the Design Sprint, all members of the team (non-designers and designers, alike), practiced the skills of interviewing, writing research plans, ideating, sketching, storyboarding, dot-voting, rapid prototyping, user testing and more. The entire UX process was compressed into bite sized actionable exercises.

Reaching out to real people to gain empathy and insights

In addition to speaking with stakeholders, we also reached out to patients living with type 2 diabetes. Of everyone we spoke to, it became crystal clear that we needed to target nutritional education. If we could impact that area of people’s lives, we could not only help those with the disease, we could potentially prevent others from getting it.

Divergent and convergent ideation

It’s been proven that the best ideas come from a combination of working alone, then coming together, then repeating that process. Using a variety of brainstorming methods, ideation techniques, and sketching exercises, we brought out the best ideas from every participant in the room.

Making learning fun

It’s our passion to do great work, but having fun while doing it is part of our DNA. The time we spend with our clients is rewarded with even more fun together. In San Diego, we take advantage of the good weather, spending time at the beach, baseball games, and eating authentic Mexican food (and drinks). And occasionally, our office manager Jen saves the day with fresh baked cookies.

Democratic decision making and collective storyboarding

With an abundance of ideas and many potential paths to pursue, it’s important to facilitate productive conversation when selecting ideas to validate. Through a series of dot-voting exercises and a moderated storyboarding session, we helped a group of eight people unite with one thoughtful and testable concept.

Rapid prototyping and testing

In one day, we wrote the content of the product to be made. We designed a mockup to a believable fidelity, and we brought it to life with motion and interaction. This happened all while we refined our testing criteria to find the right users to give us meaningful feedback.

Telepathy’s highly passionate and skilled User Experience Design team trained us in their design sprint approach. Telepathy was able to very quickly learn about Roche’s customer and business environment and formed a cross-functional Roche-Telepathy team that leveraged Roche’s customer insights to prototype and test an entirely new value proposition in just 5 days – the learnings were so impactful, that Roche is now using Telepathy’s process and the results for a new strategic business opportunity.

Marco De Polo
Head Portfolio Strategy & Global Market Insights

Results with lasting impact

The results were overwhelmingly positive. The Design Sprint validated our concept of improving the support system for those suffering with diabetes. The Roche team left with a suite of tools to train their internal groups. And we helped nudge humanity a bit more in the right direction, working to help solve problems in the most meaningful way. For an hour-by-hour breakdown of the experience, check out our blog series, A Sprint Story.