Integrating research, design and clinical practice for purposeful creation.

Christi Zuber is the Founder of Aspen Labs.  She is an unusual mix of the science and practice of design, proven innovation leadership and team building, and a roll up your sleeves field tester of ideas.  She is deeply curious about people, committed to social good and joy in the workplace and truly, a life long learner.


Experienced Design and Innovation leader:

Christi is a clinical practitioner and a design thinking practitioner with over 20 years of field experience observing users, creatively generating ideas with teams and testing them out in live environments to learn and develop solutions that work.  Christi brought the yet-to-be-named design thinking approach to a Children’s Hospital as it’s administrator in 1996 and in 2003 plunged head-first into human-centered design for innovation at a 200,000 person organization. In doing so, she founded a group within healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente, called the Innovation Consultancy.  She led and grew the successful (and joyful!) team for 12 years.  The team’s work has been used as a case study to teach students in business, engineering and design schools around the globe. Their approach and impact has been written about in the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, New York Times and countless books on design, business, innovation, technology and healthcare.  Christi serves on The Conference Board’s Innovation Council and she is an executive mentor to the fellows in the ASU/AONE sponsored fellowship program.

Cross-industry professional:

Christi’s primary industry knowledge is in healthcare, but her practice crosses industry boundaries.  She has experience from developing a new business consulting practice for Arthur Andersen, to running an investor relations/public relations team, to leading a small start up company.

In her current PhD work, she’s researching the enabling conditions for those who want to be champions of innovation and change within large complex organizations from in depth case studies from successful leaders across 10 industries.  Christi loves to practice, write, research, teach and speak on the topics of design, innovation, creativity and individual empowerment to make a difference.

Applied Research in Design Science:

Design thinking practitioners and academic researchers of applied design practice have a lot to learn from each other.  That’s why Christi, and a few of her talented colleagues in Europe, co-founded and co-lead a network to connect them through a Design Thinking Exchange (  Together they push both thinking and practice beyond current boundaries.  They identify practice patterns and research connections to make what we all do better and more joyful.

Zuber’s research is focused on people who want to catalyze and lead change for good. She studies successful leaders in this space and create insights, approaches, frameworks and tools.  The purpose?   To help empower others to lead innovation and change through design to make this world a better place.


Want to hear more?   Check out some of these talks.

Putting the Care into Healthcare Design – Presentation AIGA Conference

Don’t Forget the Humans – Presentation at UX Week

Lessons from the Field – Presentation at Mayo’s Transform Conference

Sharing a 14 Year Journey-Building Design and Innovation Capabilities – Podcast


(Co)Authored Peer Reviewed and Chapter Publications:

Human Centered Approaches to Implementing and Spreading Service Designs

Fail Often to Succeed Sooner:  Adventured in Innovation 

Patient Experiences of Transitioning from Hospital to Home:  an Ethnographic Quality Improvement Project 

Mad for Method