Image of a laptop with Global Health on the screen


Visualizing the Process
Re-imagining the Microsoft Global
Health Research Pipeline Infographic


Research within Microsoft is vast, and communication throughout groups can be challenging. Microsoft Research reached out to collaborate with Allovus because they needed an updated infographic to simplify the complex story of their process, which represented many layers of information within their design pipeline framework.

Their current solution was not solving their needs—viewers were finding it hard to track sequential steps within the flatter, circular visual model. Our client wanted to convey multiple concepts within the research pipeline while also describing the architecture, the journey, as well as what is involved, and who is involved – at each stage. Additionally, while the process is a cycle, ideas can exit the pipeline at any stage.

Image showing a diagram of Explore, Scale, Incubate as a circular process

A well-designed infographic can help explain complex team processes. The original ‘Research to Impact Operating Model’ infographic was no longer serving that purpose

Ideally, the diagram would enable our client to tell a complex story of how opportunity spaces, pipelines, and individual “threads” fit together and provide the ability to customize the graphics and stages for distinct audience presentations.

This complex request would require a great deal of collaboration and exploration.


The beginning of the project required several brainstorming sessions to fully understand our client and the key concepts they wished to convey. These sessions helped us further understand the architectural options, the “journey” that research takes, and how concepts can enter or exit the pipeline at any stage.

As we investigated the intent of the project, our client created an example for the story they were seeking to tell, outlining the key areas within the process. This preliminary idea was incredibly helpful in understanding their needs.

Graphic showing two arrows pointing up from Exporation to Opportunity


We also provided examples of materials as they relate to concepts. Early discussions helped us identify the types of shapes and styles that would work best with Microsoft’s Fluent design system.

A photo of colored tubes

The transparent tubes represent the flow of information as well as the look and feel our client was seeking.

A photo of macaroni

Macaroni is another tube-like structure with an interesting curve that may be useful in our explorations.

A photo of a mobious strip

A mobius strip represents the concept of infinity and a continuous journey.


What may look like pencil doodles on a page serve as a serious purpose: quick explorations help our client visualize options and how key aspects fit within the structure. These early explorations were invaluable paths toward understanding and charting the next steps.

Numerous small exploration sketches
The best ideas are expanded on and explored even further. Many of these ideas won’t make it, but that’s okay. The best elements of each idea get combined into a final set of solutions.


As we learned more about the objectives of this infographic, we began to surface key questions:

  • How do we display key “stages” within the process?
  • What are the directions information travels?
  • Where do ideas enter and exit a pipeline?
  • How do we tell the correct story in a way that makes each stage crystal-clear to the user?

Tighter explorations helped us work with the client to further define the right visual structure for the journey. Eventually, our explorations provided a concept that encapsulated the flow of ideas and the fact that these ideas can begin or end at any point in the cycle. The tube would become more of a funnel, wider at the base and narrower as the journey grew closer to the impact area. This would be the structure we would build our solution around.

More in-depth sketches


Once our concept was more tightly defined, it was time to provide a low-fidelity exploration in color. This pass helped us conceptualize the “whole” story—the key levels, the path a marble (journey) would take, and the funnel where ideas might circle back toward the conceptual base.

Approval was provided at this point to move to high-fidelity visuals.

Low-fidelity color image of spiral

A low-fidelity color exploration, submitted to the client team for approval to move to high-fidelity versions.

Color image of spiral

The final construct in its “opaque” state. As the client’s story progresses, layers become transparent defining the area of the journey and revealing details within each step.

A transparent color image of spiral

Transparent areas are revealed progressively, while the staircase within shows individual steps that are detailed during the presentation.

A colored spiral with levels: Exploration, Directed Exploration, Incubation, Scaling, Impact Area, Opportunity Space, Opportunity


The final version was provided to the client as a series of visuals within a customized deck that enabled them to “reveal” the different layers and stages within PowerPoint presentations.

With this tool in hand, the client had both the metaphor and the illustration to clearly explain their overall process, and the power to both advocate to potential partners and pitch for resources in funding conversations.

Microsoft Allovus


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