Building human centred design capability

pharma science

AstraZeneca created ‘Our future reimagined’, its global transformation programme, to help it overcome the multitude of challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry – from increased use of digital technology, to changes affecting the supply chain.

It was designed to help the organization do three things: take a more patient-centred approach to its work, use data in smart ways, and make sure all its systems are aligned

The team wanted to use design thinking to help the organization take a more customer-centric approach to its work.


What we did

We ran a series of two-day workshops with teams responsible for each area of the programme to accelerate their understanding of design thinking and how it could support their work.

With one team we looked into how the supply chain process could be improved. We explored a regular scenario for the organisation – where a study needs to be designed for a clinical trial.

One element of this process involves making all the decisions associated with putting medication into bottles and distributing it – from the information included on labels, to how much medication each container holds, to whether the bottles are distributed in crates etc. If the wrong decisions are made, this can lead to major logistical issues.

By going out and speaking to people working in the supply chain, the team gathered invaluable human insight. They learned that people in the supply chain – who play a key role in enabling medication to get to patients – were not being considered early enough in the process.

They learned that such conversations would highlight logistical elements that need to be planned for, such as medication needing to be refrigerated during travel, or the size of containers. When such colleagues aren’t considered until the end, they can get blamed for delays and other problems, which could have been avoided if they’d been engaged in good time.

During interviews the team discovered that their supply chain colleagues really cared about patients and felt left out of decisions regarding the service provided to them. Using role play, we helped the team work out how they could work better together.

This led to a set of new requirements that went into Merlin – a system for controlling the whole clinical process. It’s now been changed to allow for everybody’s voices to be heard.

Similar stories

Design thinking action learning projects that inspired new tech solutions at Ciena

Ciena uses human-centred design to generate new ideas for the business

Read more

Designing the future of education

Healthcare in the spotlight West Coast University helps prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals for the world of work. Never has the importance of a well-populated, highly skilled healthcare workforce been more in the […]

Read more

The innovation programme that inspired Sky Glass

We’ve worked closely with the head of learning and development at Sky to build and rollout an innovation programme for all 600 Sky leaders. Every aspect of the innovation and creativity learning experience is designed […]

Read more
Read enough? Get in touch
Drop us a line to discuss the learning objectives you have for your people with one of our training specialists.

Let's talk

If you can spare the time for a 30 min ZOOM call, a member of our senior team would be happy to discuss your aspirations and challenges, and explain how we can help.

Send us a message

Please enter your name

We use HubSpot as our CRM platform. By submitting this form, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to HubSpot for processing. Learn more about HubSpot's privacy practices here.
Close menu  

Treehouse Innovation


Solve complex problems and design new products, services and strategies that make a measurable difference

Go to Consulting

Transform Business and Culture

We journey alongside our clients in their voyage to create innovative new business models, strategies and future-fit cultures that drive sustainable growth

Design New Solutions

We join forces with your teams to solve complex challenges and create the products, services and internal solutions that create sustainable competitive advantage

Engage & Align Stakeholders

We help you bring together your most critical stakeholders to co-create and align around new strategies, solutions and plans of action

Close menu  

Treehouse Innovation


Learning programs that teach teams to thrive in times of change

Go to Training

Design Thinking

Empower your people to be more customer-focused, collaborative, and innovative in their everyday work

Innovation Leadership

Enable your leaders to create the conditions for innovation to flourish

Facilitation Training

Design for more human-centred thinking and effective sales.

Innovation Strategy

Understand the levers available to business leaders when seeking to drive profitable innovation

Leading Change

Equip your people to effectively respond and adapt in a rapidly changing environment

Client-Centred Innovation

Empower sales teams to connect more deeply with customers and dramatically improve performance

Artificial Intelligence

Learn how to harness the power of AI in your business to drive innovation

Close menu  

Treehouse Innovation


Solve complex problems and design new products, services and strategies that make a measurable difference

Go to Assessments

Innovation Impact: Skills

Understand the strengths and opportunities to develop innovative capabilities at the individual, team and organizational level.
(Individual, Team, or Organizational profile)

Innovation Impact: ROI

Measure the ROI of innovation and design thinking practice on real business outcomes in your organization.
(Project ROI, Organizational Outcomes )

Close menu  

Treehouse Innovation


Digital tools to help teams continuously innovate

Go to Tools


A powerful innovation platform containing all of the Treehouse tools and methods along with built in structure and guidance to help newly trained teams make an immediate impact

Innovation Priorities

An interactive card game and virtual tool for engaging senior leaders in setting innovation strategy for their organization