Engaging community through design thinking to build a stronger and healthier culture.


Mayo Clinic, Big New Ideas Client 2012

We were brought in as designers to find the root causes of the health problems shown in the data, so that we can design effective preventative measures. We believed that the healthcare challenges that individuals faces are often community driven. Our hypothesis is that we can design a community that is transparent, governed by accountability, where people are engaged and making informed choices.




Our test bed for this theory was in a commuter town of Rochester, in Dodge County, Minnesota. It became clear early in our studies that pervious top-down approaches were costly and ineffective. After diving deeper into research and interviews, we concluded that sustainable change in Dodge County could only happen if the solutions come from within the community. Then the question was how do we work with the community to generate excitement and sustained growth. 


Through our research, we developed a reflexible and repeatable framework to identified community leaders with passionate ideas that we should collaborate with. We designed tools for them to lead conversations and created space for others to share stories and experiences. By doing so, we were able to nurture and leverage relationships within the community to inspire and encourage positive change. These ideas were part of a pilot program that put our framework and the community's ideas to the test. 

Since our involvement in 2012, the community and their leaders continue to foster a healthy community by identifying community leaders, and developing new programming ideas using our framework. The work that we have done became the foundation for a community-based coalition called Dodge Refresh, and helped Mayo Clinic refine their strategic approach to working with communities to build stronger and healthier cultures.



Design Research
Design Thinking Workshops
Community Mapping
Stakeholder Interviews
Community Strategy