Interview with Omada’s Adrian James

What started out as an open ended 2 month research project at IDEO has in the last two years spun out into a full fledged startup with a mission of enabling long term diabetes prevention. Using digital tracking, customized coaching and the support of peers, Omada aims to foster and sustain healthy behaviors among their users. Adrian James, Designer and Co-founder of Omada Health, discusses the influence that working at IDEO has had on his design approach, the future of Omada, and the kind of designers they’re looking to get on board.

On what inspires him in his design work at Omada:

I think that the most inspiring moments for me came when I felt like I watched someone make a cognitive transition…Where instead of thinking that being healthy is work, avoiding diabetes is work, food tracking is work, making these changes is work, they experience this turnaround where they think ‘Hang on a second. I’m spending less money. I’m feeling better. My stress is reduced. I’m sleeping better. I see the beginning of a new life path ahead of me.’

Omada comes into being at a turning point in our history of human existence. For the first time ever last year, preventable chronic disease overtook infectious disease as the number one threat to our health. What part of the solution comes down to, Adrian says, is influencing people to change their mindset so that they feel in control of their future well being.

As to who they’re looking for to build their design team?

I love people who can actually show evidence of their passion for helping people. What I’ve found so far, in terms of challenges: it’s maintaining the ability execute really quickly down to the details (we’re a really small team) but then also having the room in your brain and in your creative space to step away from the details and think about the emotional experience that we’re giving to people and the higher level feeling of the program that we’re building. I know I find myself constantly jumping back and forth between those two levels–and that’s one of the challenging things for me–but I think that it takes a certain kind of designer to do it well.

Listen to the full interview below.

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