Exhibiting Innovation at IBM

IBM was confronted with a conundrum: Its “Smarter Planet” initiative led to innovations for its customers, but the traditional trade show booths that presented the product to customers — at thousands of exhibitions — did not reflect that sense of innovation. The company needed to ensure customers got the message.

IBM and global event and experience marketing firm George P. Johnson partnered to address the situation with design thinking, an approach to problem solving that uses right-brain creative thinking and left-brain analytical thinking to uncover customer needs and new possibilities.

Interviews with experts on how people learn led to insights on how a physical space can shape a person’s ability to digest and take an interest in new information, as well as the importance of how an expert introduces and guides a conversation.

Read more about how the companies experimented with environments and trained staff in a way that resulted in higher quantity and quality of leads, in Andrew King and Professor Jeanne Liedtka’s article “How IBM Overhauled Its Trade Show Booths, Step by Step,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.

King and Liedtka are co-authors of the book Solving Problems With Design Thinking: 10 Stories of What Works.

Professor Liedtka teaches in the Executive Education programs Design Thinking for Innovative Business Problem Solving and Design Thinking for Innovative Problem Solving: A Step-by-Step Project Course (online), which teach participants to break through the messiest business problems with a systematic approach to creative insights and solutions.

About the Faculty

Jeanne M. Liedtka

Liedtka is an expert on the hot topic of design thinking and how it can be used to fuel innovation and organic growth.

Liedtka’s most recent books are The Catalyst: How You Can Lead Extraordinary Growth (named one of Businessweek’s best innovation and design books of 2009), Designing for Growth: A Design... Learn More