There are many reasons why I am in the Challenge Detroit program. One of them is this video (split in 3 parts linked below) from ABC’s Nightline from July 13, 1999.  I may not have watched it on that exact night, it may have been re-broadcast a few years later, but I do remember watching this episode of Nightline on the couch with my mother during my high school years. It had a profound impact on my understanding of design, what conditions and people need to be present for real innovation to happen, and even how a workplace could and should be structured. Maybe I didn’t know it at the time, but it stayed with me for many years, and I began to realize that the IDEO process and overall mindset was the ideal methodology for problem solving, for questioning the status quo, for continuous improvement, and could be applied beyond just product design. At its heart, IDEO is able to innovate because its people are multidisciplinary and bring many different perspectives and strengths to the table.

So what is IDEO? IDEO (pronounced “eye-dee-oh”) is an award-winning global design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow.We identify new ways to serve and support people by uncovering latent needs, behaviors, and desires. “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” —Tim Brown, president and CEO

So what does all of this have to do with why I am in Challenge Detroit?  As soon as I read about what Challenge Detroit is and how it is structured, the first thing I said to myself was “Challenge Detroit is IDEO for cities.” Rarely in life do we ever have the opportunity to bring together a multidisciplinary group of 30 brilliant, creative, entrepreneurial, optimistic, dedicated, ambitious people all of whom believe in the potential of one place. This is precisely what IDEO does everyday, but we are doing it on a city-wide and region-wide scale, hopefully with a global impact. Imagine what we can achieve. Imagine what we could do if corporate america, and government and NGOs around the world operated and made decisions in this way? I intend to bring what I learn about this facet of the Challenge Detroit experience and apply it to places I work in the future.

Inside IDEO from Nightline

Part 1  (9:55)

Part 2 (7:33)

Part 3 (4:36)

For more, visit, see what they had to say about the Nightline feature, and watch the many TED Talks by IDEO‘s Founder, it’s CEO, the Creative Director and others by search IDEO on