Experience Town


Believing all problems are solvable and the people who face them hold the key to the answer, is the central tenet of human-centered design. Whatever we do, we have confidence we are tackling problems together with our people and therefore generating solutions rooted in addressing their real needs. Investing in an Experience Mindset means improving our associates’ experience through every touch point of their lifecycle at Novartis.

How Experience Town was born

Improving experiences meant creating a conduit where design teams could connect with the right people, to help solve the right problems. Our internal service organization gathered requirements, drove the innovation process, and gave life to Experience Town: our virtual town paradigm and first contact point for improving people experience at Novartis. Today it’s where we pilot innovative technologies, test processes and concepts, then iterate designs and refine solutions based on real insights. What previously cost considerable time and investment to mobilize is now at our fingertips. Everyone can tap into a pool of willing associates - underpinning an ecosystem where researchers, design and project teams can build people-centric solutions.

Experience Movement

ExperienceTown has a flat structure, connecting horizontally across divisional and geographical silos, so associates can collaborate, experiment, create and learn. It underpins our cultural aspiration to be an Inspired, Curious and Unbossed organization. Associates can register as Citizens, whose active contribution drives up their status ranking and rewards. Accessed from our virtual Research Center ‘building,’ Citizens become willing study participants – offering a range of demographics.  

Citizens can be invited to contribute in several ways, from surveys to focus groups, receiving non-monetary virtual rewards for their time. Each Citizen profile is linked to their corresponding Enterprise Persona – forming a powerful research lens into audience needs. Initiating research from Persona preferences, provides a powerful way to empathize with the people we’re creating solutions for. This is the Experience Mindset we want to inspire in every associate, to help us reimagine medicine. 

Experience 5D Framework

As a capability catalyst to embed the Experience Mindset, we’ve internally developed a framework which creates a unique hybrid model, leveraging the key features of Design Thinking (validate early then iterate), Agile UX (deliver solutions often), Human Centered Design (place people at the core) and Lean UX (focus on business outcomes). Associates can digitally access the Framework by onboarding their initiative to Project Tower in Experience Town. To help boost capability, we launched an Experience Curriculum, giving key influencer teams the tools to become ambassadors within their networks.

Enterprise-wide programs who used a people-centric approach

Experience benchmarking is critical to understanding pain points, at significant moments in the employee lifecycle. Our recent Experience Index (EXI) participation was an important spotlight to focus efforts and leverage Experience Team support, to raise scores. This enabled us to mobilize experience coaching on several global strategic transformations. We leveraged the Experience Town platform to spin up Novartis’ response to the Covid pandemic. In this case, experiment groups and community engagement helped define our approach to ‘Choice with Responsibility’ - the future of hybrid and flexible working.

Data insights

Since November 2020, our Experience Town Citizen base has been steadily growing on a daily basis. We aim to reach 15% of the Novartis population by mid-2022. New research study requests are received weekly in Research Center, as are projects digitally on-boarded to Project Tower and, many hundreds of associates have embarked on the Experience Capability journey.

Future Strategy

We believe the next experience evolution, to chime with ‘Gen Z’ expectations, is sustainable innovation. It assumes problems can be solved by existing internal solutions - focusing on what’s working well, what makes our exemplars successful, and leveraging their best-in-class solutions. The result? Not reinventing the wheel, breaking silos, removing duplication, transparent access to knowledge, learning and sharing lessons. Initiatives become quicker to implement, use in-house knowledge and don’t require external input or extensive investment to be effective. Change adoption is bolstered when generated from grassroots ideas, via ‘influencer’ communities displaying living proof. For us, this embodies the experience lifecycle thinking needed to embed sustainability in every facet of our lives.


"Experience is such an important theme for us in Novartis and we can all play a massive role across the enterprise, empathizing and improving the lives of our associates by applying our Design Thinking framework. I am really excited to be part of an organization which is embracing a people-centric mindset, to improve people experience - unleashing the power of our people throughout their journey at Novartis. This is industry leading!"
– Dan Rose, Head Customer & Technology Solutions, Operations & Strategy - Novartis