When you’re under 40, buying a life insurance policy may seem about as practical as buying a Humvee.

That makes insurance a tough sell for a company like MassMutual, who partnered with IDEO over a two-year engagement to design a service that might impart the wisdom of thinking long-term to those who don’t.

Our research uncovered that you either have a smart-money mindset or you don’t. When it comes to being an adult about financial issues—chipping away debt, saving to buy a house—age doesn’t matter.

The work felt like a partnership rather than an engagement and the quality of design approach sits somewhere between art and magic.

— Gareth Ross, Vice President, Analytics and Research, MassMutual

So, instead of making a case for something people don’t want, MassMutual set out to make a difference. Together we created a sort of master’s program for adulthood, where the curriculum covers everything from investing in a 401K to having that hard talk about a budget to how to pick good, cheap wine. We called it Society of Grownups.

IDEO helped build the new venture from the ground up—designing a brand identity, a digital platform with some of the most sophisticated financial planning tools in the industry, and a hip brick-and-mortar locale. We thought everything through, right down to custom tables and pencils. And in the end, everything added up to a common vision. The new Society of Grownups staff is building on that vision, innovating every day.


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