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A visualization tool helping organizations reach new depths of gratitude through a better understanding of impactful moments contributed.

Photo of Sara Musselman
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ROOT is a history maker and a historical marker. Too often gratitude for work well done gets swept under the rug.  It could have been the summer intern who had a great idea in a meeting room and sparked the new direction of a conversation which led to an amazing development and a bounty of new opportunities for everyone on the project.  Or maybe it was a classic chat over the water cooler… These pivotal social moments that add up to great successes, but are too often forgotten, will be remembered with ROOT.

This tool gives the power to the people in the room to note and mark when an insight was made… and it isn’t just for self-promoters.  Anyone can ROOT for anyone – if they see something remarkable, it just takes a tag and an identification to mark the moment.   

There is a reason why people often ask, ‘Where are you from?’ when first meeting a new friend.  Learning builds meaning, and without meaning, there is no way for gratitude to show it's glowing face. Let’s get ROOTed.

Idea Title

ROOT Hey – Never forget that I’m ROOTing for you!

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

This is not only a visualization tool, it is a way to channel change within a company culture – giving participants the permission to put excellence and innovations on the map. Showing up for appreciation of innovations is a way of saying ‘Thanks, man – glad you’re here.’ When a project is open, teams from different divisions or individuals with different roles sign in and become a color in the 'Team Contributors' panel. As people tag them, the dots show up on the timeline and connect to others in or across teams. Time goes on, these groups and lines thicken with participation. Tapping back to the beginning of a root shows where ideas stemmed from, and how they grew over time.

Who are you innovating for?

From any one person with a goal who accepts help from one partner to a team of hundreds, this data visualization system will help every person involved feel a part of the project – and be able to point to the contributions and successes along the way.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

ROOT is going to be an amazing tool for teams structured in a silo system with distant E-Class leadership – where departments are divided, details are forgotten, and the reach through company lines feels too far. It could also be used across multiple companies working together – as a way of putting new insights and tasks well done on the ROOT map. It could even be used with friends and partners working towards a goal as a way to motivate and communicate jobs well done.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

The management could sit down with the founders of any company and make a ROOT system on the origin of the company, and then present ROOT to the team through the act of showing the beginning stories of growth. This will highlight the features of ROOT and also teach any of the team members who may not have known about these important details.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

Streamlining the ease of use, where data entry is imperative – this will be an obstacle to make as easy as possible. It’s the type of system that needs individuals to register positions and type in ROOT messages. The Data Visualization will inspire use, in that the roots to each project will look amazing the more people participate. Like any new tool, it will only be useful if used.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

I would like to introduce it into a small company that would be willing to go through a beta test. It can remain digital, or members of a team can also keep a diary of what key insights rose to the top of their memory on any given day, making who they are ROOTing for. This data is then entered in – like a tweet to the ROOT system, giving that moment a place in history in the process.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

I would immediately put together a team of software innovators, data visualizers and psychologists working in the field of collaboration and gratitude. Then we would begin to work together to dive deep into the world of company social interactions, discovering what has worked in teams of different sizes. This is research in action!

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Watching a YouTube video of Carl Sagan’s last interview with Charlie Rose. He had just been diagnosed with the health condition that eventually took his life. He had mentioned that since finding out the bad news, he went back into the memories of his life. His memories filled him with a great sense of awe and wonder, and immediately thereafter, a deep sense of gratitude for his own life and the lives and moments he loved. I made a connection between memory and gratitude.

Tell us about yourself

I am Sara Musselman - a systems designer, design thinker, and ceramicist. I graduated from Parsons The New School for Design in 2008 with a BFA in Product Design. Since then, I have worked in the music industry and art world as a conceptualist, graphics and product designer. All of my design thinking is deeply rooted in research. I never stopped asking the question, ‘But why?'

Where are you / your team located?

Los Angeles, California


Tell us about your experience

My experience... Nothing has been more influential to my design life than being surrounded by early American antiques (coming from 4 generations of antique dealers in Lancaster, PA) and cruising old buildings fixed up by my dad Glenn - a Masonry Restoration specialist.

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