Nordstrom Innovation Lab

Lab Grown Experience: Nordstrom’s Innovative Approach

Our next speaker meet and greet features a brand that has become synonymous with excellence in customer experience: Nordstrom. But what you may not realize is that within Nordstrom exists a unique group known as the Innovation Lab. We’re lucky enough to have 5 members of the Nordstrom Innovation Lab joining us for Delight 2012 to share their unique perspectives on some of the unique things that they’ve been doing to drive innovation and build delight within the company — get to know a bit about the group in our interview below.

Most people are familiar with Nordstrom, but may not know of the Innovation Lab. In a nutshell, what exactly is the Nordstrom Innovation Lab all about?

Nordstrom has had a commitment to improving the service experience and innovating to evolve with our customers since our founding in 1901. Many of the most successful parts of our businesses were discoveries from developing close relationships with our customers. The Innovation Lab was created with a simple mission, “be fast and fascinating.” We use a design-led innovation process that is human-centered. We learn from our relationships with our customers, generate ideas, build, and test them to validate discoveries. Our goal is to learn at a smaller, more nimble scale, in order to support the creation of larger experiences that surprise and delight our customers and help us become their retailer of choice.

Surprise and delight is definitely something we can get on board with — can’t wait to hear more! Tell us a little bit about yourselves as individuals, and what happened to bring the five of you to the Innovation Lab.

Mahsino Blamoh is a Human Factors Designer. The combination of her three loves, graphic communication design, fashion, and human factors research are key to her contributions within the Innovation Lab. Prior to joining the Innovation Lab team, Mahsino earned degrees in design and business at the University of Cincinnati, and worked in academia specializing in universal design.

Marius Grigoriu is the Innovation Lab Manager and specializes in challenging the status quo of how teams create. Marius brings his experience leading agile transformation and continuous deployment with teams at Microsoft for five years prior to joining the Innovation Lab team in 2011.

Ben Grossman-Kahn is an innovation coach and design thinking catalyst. Focused on prototyping and collaboration, Ben found design thinking while at the Stanford and Children’s Creativity Museum. With degrees in Chinese philosophy and dance, Ben brings a diverse background in creativity to the Innovation Lab team.

Ryan R. Rosensweig is a Designer and Open Innovation Coordinator, enabling strong collaborations among diverse individuals and groups. As a member of the Innovation Lab, Ryan applies a multidisciplinary skill set to creating meaningful user experiences and exploring open innovation opportunities. Before joining Nordstrom, Ryan worked with a variety of innovation teams from CPG to health care after completing degrees in business, engineering, and design at the University of Cincinnati.

David Von-Lehman is a developer. With 6 ½ years working on the website as a Web Application Architect, he helped develop many core features including the checkout process, searching and filtering, photo viewing, and SEO. David joined the Innovation Lab in 2012 and works on technology paired with open source solutions. Prior to joining Nordstrom, David was employee #3 at a Seattle-based startup after completing a degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Kansas.

So how does “delight” factor into your team and the work you guys are doing?

Delight is integrated in Nordstrom culture, as well as our daily routine. For everyone at Nordstrom, achieving results means meeting or exceeding customer expectations. This is why innovation at Nordstrom is guided by human-centered design philosophies. We consider a great idea to be one that is desirable for our customers, viable for our business, and feasible for us to create.

The Innovation Lab focuses on a portfolio of risky ideas where we begin with a well-framed customer problem, and utilize our multidisciplinary team to uncover and validate opportunities that move our uncertainty into solutions that are desirable, viable, and feasible. With the customer at the center of this process, we only succeed when the customer is delighted.

What do you hope that attendees can take away from your session?

Nordstrom culture guides every employee through a single rule: use good judgment in all situations. We trust each other’s integrity and ability, and this focus on empowerment allows the innovation lab to succeed as a self-organized team. We hope through an honest dialogue between software development, design, user experience and coaching professionals, attendees will learn how we move our multidisciplinary team to achieve innovative solutions through interdisciplinary collaboration.

And what about you guys – what are you most looking forward to about the event?

We are looking forward to being participants in the Delight 2012 conversation. We hope our case study supports a larger retrospective on how our various teams can improve at delighting our customers across all channels. We will be doing a lot of listening and learning to see how we can do a better job of making our customers happy.


I’m personally excited to meet the team in person, and look forward to hearing more about the cool things they’ve been up to like this clever “Flash Build” — check it out!

And of course, don’t forget to register for Delight 2012 soon — it’ll be here before you know it! Teams of 4 or more save 50% on tickets, so why not take a cue from the Innovation Lab and bring your whole team?