Social Innovation


Social innovation seeks to create transformational change in under-served, underrepresented, and disadvantaged communities worldwide. At IDEO, we use design thinking to address issues such as poverty, nutrition, health, water and sanitation, economic empowerment, access to financial services, and gender equity.

Our projects involve clients in both the private and public sectors. To help them develop effective solutions, we create not only products and services, but also the entire system that supports them. This often means spending considerable time in the field, living and working with the people we’re striving to assist. We routinely partner with local leaders (who act as our trusted advisers) to ensure that all concepts and solutions are practical, culturally appropriate, scalable, and sustainable.

This means that before introducing anything new, we figure out what really matters to the target population—and what will motivate them to accept and adopt our solution. We also consider funding…

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Our Work and Our Inspiration

  • Ripple Effect Global

    Ripple Effect Global

    The Ripple Effect is a collaborative effort to improve access to safe drinking water.

  • NextBillion blog

    NextBillion blog

    Bringing people together to explore the connection between development and enterprise.

  • Change Observer blog

    Change Observer blog

    Change Observer is a channel of Design Observer devoted to the many dimensions of design for social innovation.


  • Tim Brown

    Tim Brown

    Tim Brown is CEO and president of IDEO. He frequently speaks about the value of design thinking and innovation to businesspeople and designers around the…

  • Fred Dust

    Fred Dust

    A Partner at IDEO, Fred leads Systems at Scale, the group responsible for helping clients with large, systemic questions about infrastructure, from governmental shifts to…

  • Sally Madsen

    Sally Madsen

    Sally Madsen is a designer and project leader at IDEO, and a leader of IDEO’s Social Innovation domain. She brings a holistic view to the…