Restoring Organizational Culture
Economic justice
Corporate strategy
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital x IDEO

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a leader in children's cancer research and clinical care. Treatments developed there have pushed overall childhood cancer survival rates from 20% to more than 80% since 1962. Its Department of Global Pediatric Medicine manages a worldwide alliance where disparate partners, clinicians, and governments collaborate on better outcomes for kids everywhere.

Our approach

Design question

The Global department works to reverse the harsh reality that the vast majority of children with cancer live in low- or middle-income countries where most of them will die from their diseases. The mental and emotional toll of the work is extreme. How do these colleagues keep faith in the face of such hopelessness?

Design response

After years of working to erect a functioning global alliance, psychological safety within the 75-person department had eroded. The group sought outside support, asking our team to use language to help their deeply wounded department heal and rebuild trust. After a series of organizational ideology workshops, we delivered a ‘cultural constitution,’ which served as a touchstone at a group retreat where norms were officially re-set.


“When Lisa asked that the lighting be turned down in the client’s ballroom-style space, I realized she was not just a writer-designer but also a performer—which matters in our transformational design work. It has to be immersive; it has to be experiential and all-enveloping in order to be believed, and Lisa had an instinct for that. When she delivered the final work orally in that big ballroom, she turned off all the lights and narrated the words herself, from the back of the room, behind the audience, as they read along on the screen. In one of the most memorable and remarkable experiences in my IDEO career, the mood in that room had noticeably shifted in a very positive way after the lights came back on. They were a client ready for change. Lisa is a gifted writer, designer, and innovator and has worked with us at IDEO over a number of years. She has a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament! I am pleased and honored to give Lisa as strong of a recommendation as I possibly can.”

Dennis Boyle

Partner and founding member of IDEO