We Work with organizations of all shapes & sizes

Our Services

Learning Experiences

While our approach is as scholarly as any, our teaching is designed to make things happen on the ground, on the manufacturing floor, in the conference room and any other site where your company gets real work done.

Think inspiration over invoices; by design not by default; systematic over random. NewNorth Center is your unique opportunity to rise above the urgent din of deadlines to put your business challenges and opportunities into content You will learn to transcend the daily to design the lasting, guided by some of the finest minds in human-centered design. Discover the power of a repeatable and disciplined innovation process to make breakthrough ideas a reality.


Innovation Management Certification (IMC) is a unique executive education and professional development experience. Our focus is to equip you with the mindsets, processes and tools to make things happen in your organization.

IMC is a 30 week experience (one day a week in 10-week trimesters) in a mixed cohort of other professionals from large corporations to start-ups, from non-profits to the government sector. Together with your cohort, you will learn a systematic and repeatable process of innovation and how to apply it in your context.

Your employer wins and so do you. Each professional is expected to bring an opportunity that can drive growth in your organization. Through class, cohort and experiences we will help you build a project that can be implemented after graduation.

Over 100 different leaders from across Michigan and the Midwest have graduated from IMC, representing large multinationals, small businesses, start-ups, solo consultancies, non-profits, municipal and public service entities and others. We have a proven track record of success.

Short-Format Workshops

We offer workshops for organizations and teams looking to gain insight into innovation, design thinking and complex problem solving. Groups may be domain-specific (a focus on education, engineering or healthcare, for example) and can be a combination of organizations (family-owned businesses, Chamber networks, etc.) or focused specifically on a department within your organization. Our team recommends a minimum of a four-hour session; we find that two half-day sessions (afternoon and the following morning) is often a successful format. Let’s talk; we’d love to design a workshop that works for your team and your timeline. Contact us.

Is IMC right for me?

Embarking on IMC is a unique journey for people who are ready to embrace innovation in a new way. Read more about IMC by downloading our PDF info sheet. Want to find out about IMC from a graduate? Contact us and we can connect you with alumni in a similar industry or professional situation.

Download the IMC PDF


What is Unconsulting®? Simply put: Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime. Like a consultant, you can hire us for project work. Unlike a consultant, we will work with you, guiding you through a process to realize the potential of new opportunities, to solve complex problems to get the organization where it wants to be. For long-term sustainable growth, innovation must come from within; innovation is not something you outsource. We believe in empowering our clients to continue to innovate through the mindsets, process and tools of human-centered design.

Project Unconsulting

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Einstein

Do you have a project that needs fresh thinking? We can work with you and your team to create and implement a project flow that incorporates the tools of human-centered design to empower the team to new thinking and new solutions.

Clients have using Project Unconsulting to:

- explore adjacent spaces to their core business

- develop product ideas into actionable/unimplementable concepts

- design new consumer/client experiences

- synthesize various disparate data to a single point of view

- align process and teams

Private Workshops

Empower your team to drive innovation with an on-site, private workshop. We create custom learning experiences for teams who want to understand the fundamentals of innovation or deep dive into specific parts of the innovation process. Contact us for more information.

What Our Clients Say

“We are really proud of the work we did with NewNorth. We had a complex project with a large cross-functional team, and I wasn’t really sure how we were going to do it. NewNorth provided us with a process and a set of tools that took us from the ambiguous to the concrete. The approach we used is, in itself, a capability that can now be scaled and replicated across various divisions throughout our global organization. Because of the NewNorth approach, and the ease and strategic focus of the NewNorth team, we were able to systematically synthesize several million dollars’ worth of research into one distilled point-of-view on customer experience. This singular perspective can now be positioned in a much more digestible and actionable way than the disparate pieces of research we have as stand-alone bodies of work. Finally, we have an approach that facilitates strong data-driven knowledge management within our company.”
- Team Lead, Amway

Meet the NewNorth Team

Seth Starner President

Seth joined NewNorth in February 2014 as the new President. He brings a broad variety of experience in innovation, design and team leadership. Most recently, Seth led the Business Innovations Group at Amway Corporation and was responsible for internal innovation training, leading strategic planning sessions, and catalyzing innovation teams to implement new opportunities around the globe. Prior to his decade of innovation experience at Amway, Starner was Project Director at Wirthlin Worldwide, a global market research firm. Starner has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design. He serves on the Boards of Directors of the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Keller Futures Center. Starner also was one of the drivers of GRid70 in downtown Grand Rapids.


Jason Kehrer Design Strategy

Jason joined NewNorth in April 2014, and works with a variety of businesses, organizations and others to help infuse design thinking and human-centered design methods to stimulate innovation, solve big problems and build effective teams. He works to grow NewNorth's presence and influence in West Michigan and beyond. Jason began his career in local and international community development, working to understand needs, design solutions and build programs in Michigan, South Africa and Swaziland. Prior to joining the NewNorth team, Jason was the general manager and lead brand strategist for a Holland, MI-based creative agency working with higher education and healthcare institutions on brand strategy and communications. Jason lead the launch of a number of award-winning and successful brand campaigns nationwide. Jason serves on several nonprofit boards, graduated from Hope College, and is originally from the suburbs of Chicago.


Forrest Large Program Navigator

Forrest is an enthusiastic training and development professional with experience in Leadership Development, Project Management, Adult Learning Theory, Team Facilitation, and Curriculum Design. His style is focused on relationship building with emphasis on action learning, measurable results, and bottom-line impact. At NewNorth , Forrest is a key facilitator in providing curriculum to our participants in Innovation Management Certification.


Laura Jongekrijg Education & Systems Support

Laura has worked in Manufacturing Operations, Purchasing, Sales, and Engineering in the corporate world. She has also been the Spiritual Life Director and the Assistant Athletic Director at a local high school, as well as an Administrator of a contemporary church. Just to keep things even more interesting her and her husband own and run a few retail businesses “on the side”. Laura is involved at NewNorth providing backbone Education Support and Financial Oversight.


Board Leadership

New & Noteworthy

Talent 2025, K-12 and "Insights for Action"

Talent 2025 is a network of 95 CEOs representing companies that employ over 120,000 people in West Michigan. At the October 2015 CEO Council meeting, the K-12 Working Group's report and recommendations were released. For the past 10 months, NewNorth has been working with Talent 2025 to explore the rigor, relevance and ecosystem of West Michigan's schools through the lens of the true users of the system: kids. We facilitated a full design research project, exploring the lives of students across West Michigan and developing key insights and recommendations based on our findings. K-12 superintendents, area CEOs and higher education leaders are now working together to implement the report's recommendations to make tangible, effective change in West Michigan's ecosystem and talent continuum.

Download a PDF of the final report here.

Next cohort of IMC forming for May 2016

We're designing the next cohort (#18!) of our Innovation Management Certification. Cohort 18 will launch in May 2016; current IMCers include students from Elzinga-Volkers, Haworth, GVSU, VanDrunen Farms, the Holland Department of Public Safety, Yanfeng, HCHS, HPS, Stow Companies and others. Contact Forrest for more info.

Godfrey-Lee Public Schools/Steelcase Foundation Project

In Fall 2015, the Steelcase Foundation awarded Godfrey-Lee Public Schools (Wyoming, MI) a $250,000 grant to use student-centered design to transform the district's learning and teach approach and overall structure. Godfrey-Lee and NewNorth are partnering together on this two year project to to redesign the district, with a task team of GLPS teachers, administrators, parents and students alongside the NewNorth team. Godfrey-Lee Public Schools is 1,947 student district located in Wyoming, MI, just west of Grand Rapids.

GLPS' superintendent, David Britten, is blogging throughout the journey. You can read his reflections here.

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