Sarah B. Nelson

Program Architect, IBM Studios


A Place of Our Own: Making Networks Where Design Thrives

Mon 24 October 16

Place shapes culture. Culture shapes place. As a leader, creating a place where design thrives requires a delicate dance of strong guidance and hands-off humility. As you add studios in new places, the dance can transform into a juggling act. How do you create places where designers love to work, where quality design occurs consistently, and where each studio can develop its unique culture - all while keeping your sanity?

At IBM, our answer to this conundrum is the IBM Studios Platform - a services platform upon which a sustainable culture of design can grow. The IBM Studios Network has more than 29 global design studios and 1100 designers across 3 business units. Our platform provides services, toolkits, and frameworks 80+ studio leaders can lean on to establish their own vibrant studio.

In this talk, Sarah B. Nelson, IBM Studios Program Architect, will discuss the design and implementation of the IBM Studios Platform. We’ll cover the framework’s components - enabling conditions, growth model and studio health - and share stories of the platform in action.

About Sarah B. Nelson

Sarah B. Nelson is the Program Architect for IBM Studios. The IBM Studios Network comprises 29 studios and 1100 designers working together to create a sustainable culture of design. Sarah leads the design of the IBM Studios Platform, a system of tools, services, frameworks, and community that enables studio leaders to grow their own thriving studio.

Prior to IBM, Sarah consulted with design executives at Fortune 100 companies to develop thriving and effective design cultures. Her company, Radically Human, served companies like Capital One, Walmart Labs, Intuit, Samsung NeXD Labs, RiotGames, Citrix Online, Wells Fargo, and United Airlines.

Sarah has 20 years of consulting and design leadership experience at Adaptive Path, Pop! and Hot Studio. Design strategy clients include Nike, Nordstrom, The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Nintendo and Vanguard Funds. Sarah holds an Master of Design Methods from the Institute of Design and a BA in visual art and electronic music from Oberlin College.