who we are

we’re friends who love solving problems together.

 

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We’ve worked together for years and years, and our deep experience helps us get to the heart of tricky challenges fast. We each bring our diverse backgrounds in business, media, advertising, storytelling, and psychology together to help our partners do amazing things.

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Jenn Maer

Jenn’s career as a storyteller began at age seven when she penned (well, actually, penciled) her first novel—a 75- page, double-spaced, spiral notebook tour de force entitled “Shark!”

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After scaling the dizzying heights of kiddie literature, Jenn worked as an agency Account Planner—conducting qualitative consumer research—as well as a Copywriter and Associate Creative Director. She helped tell the stories of clients like HP, Oregon Chai, Microsoft, Snapple, and more. Her writing has been recognized by The One Show, Clios, John Caples International Awards, and the Bay Area Addys. 

After 10 years in advertising, Jenn found her way to IDEO, where she spent 15 years offering brand strategy, storytelling, product development and creative leadership to an equally diverse group of clients, including Marriott, ConAgra, Microsoft, Four Seasons, Nike, and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. And she’s been lucky enough to work on projects that have grabbed the attention of the Spark Awards, ISDA IDEA awards, and Core 77 Design Awards. 

These days, Jenn brings her 25+ years of strategic, creative experience to the table for clients like Allstate, Clif Bar & Co, Amazon Pillpack, and Starbucks. 

Jenn is at her happiest when she's creating things that bypass the brain's radar and go straight to the heart. Speaking of which, she also teaches IDEO U's course, Storytelling for Impact, where you can learn to do the same.

 
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Neil Stevenson

Neil is a human-centered designer who leverages psychological insights to create new experiences and services. He is passionate about creativity, and how creative methods and mindsets can enable clients to innovate successfully. 

 

Neil spent 14 years at IDEO, where he led the IDEO Chicago studio. He ran design collaborations with a range of world-leading companies, including LEGO, Google, Levis, Electronic Arts and the NFL. As the editor-in-chief of the IDEO Journal, he also worked with the company CEO and founder to tell the story of design thinking in new ways, and push forward IDEO’s approaches to creative challenges.  Prior to becoming a design consultant, Neil worked in journalism, at magazines that include The Face, Mixmag, Wallpaper and Dazed+Confused. In both his magazine and design work, he applies insights into human behavior that he learned while gaining masters degrees in psychology and social anthropology from Oxford University. 

 

Since 2017, Neil has been working as a design consultant for companies that include Harley-Davidson, Danone, WeWork and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His speciality is embedding deeply within organizations, helping them understand opportunities, and then sticking with the client to ensure that new ideas come to life and reach the market. 

 

Neil lives in Chicago, Illinois with his wife and daughter.

 
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Simon Phipps

With almost 20 years experience building and scaling creative organizations, Simon’s passion is to help founders build businesses where creativity can flourish, leading to innovative outcomes and strong financial performance.

 

Simon spent a decade at IDEO working across every part of the organization, helping steer the business through a significant global expansion and management buyout as well as build out IDEO’s offices in Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore and Mumbai. During his time at IDEO, Simon is most proud of the work he did as part of the strategy team that launched IDEO.org, an innovative non-profit that was founded in Sept 2011.  After IDEO, Simon spent over 4 years as COO  of West, building a new kind of creative organization focused on helping early stage technology companies achieve product-market fit. Simon created a hybrid venture/services business that was able to deliver quality at speed even while working with immature companies and inexperienced founders.

 

Since the beginning of 2016 Simon has been working as an advisor and mentor to founders of creative organizations, helping them navigate the business challenges that arise from inception to growth. 

 

Simon lives in Marin County, California with his wife and three daughters.

 

John Ravitch

John understands the importance of designing relationships that set the right path for creative work to succeed within complex organizations. He recently returned to the U.S. after two years co-leading an innovation team at a leading Australian bank. There, he experienced digital transformation firsthand, and learned about what it really takes to get ideas through an organization. 

 

Prior to this client-side experience, John was a founding partner at IDEO for 17 years, where he focused on helping leaders build their creative confidence and define their innovation agendas. He carved out skills around the future of the workplace for Netflix and Deloitte, guided by the belief that compelling design supports behavioral change within business. He recently keynoted on the importance of creative competitiveness and designing for momentum at the global ServiceDesignNow conference.

 

His work has included rethinking the future of the luxury car buying experience, creating client-focused learning labs for a leading global consultancy, and creating new service experiences in consumer retail channels.

 

Prior to IDEO, John cut his teeth at CKS Partners, a top digital brand agency in Silicon Valley which was retained by Steve Jobs to rethink Apple’s marketing effort in the 90’s. John learned first-hand about Jobs’ famed “reality distortion field” while working on the core marketing team for Apple MacWorld.

 
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let's chat.

Reach out to John at john@harmonic55.com.