Computer Science Equity and Justice in Computing Conversations

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Equity & Justice in Computing: David Robertson, "Community-Centered Design: A Cherokee Perspective on Design Thinking"

Event Type
Illinois Computer Science
Oct 14, 2022   3:30 pm  

Link to Talk Video:

Abstract: Design Thinking has swept through the global business world and helped many companies improve their ability to design products and services.  One of the key tenets of Design Thinking is the importance of empathy – how developing a deep understanding of the thoughts, beliefs, and emotions of customers is necessary for good design.  Yet the way Design Thinking is often implemented focuses on individual thoughts and feelings but can underestimate the powerful influence that our communities have on our behavior. 

In this talk David Robertson will profile three Cherokee innovators to show how members of a communal and egalitarian culture design new products and services for the communities they’re serving.  The unique and powerful role that the community plays in Cherokee culture led them all to use a broader lens as they pursued their innovations – developing empathy for communities instead of individuals.  The talk has lessons for anyone interested in the Cherokee history and culture, and advice for anyone interested in serving communities – especially underserved communities – through innovation.

Bio: David Robertson is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he teaches Innovation and Product Management. Over the course of his career, David has been a consultant at McKinsey, a startup advisor, a senior executive at small and large technology companies, a research fellow at MIT’s AI lab, and a radio show host.

From 2002 through 2009 David was the LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at Switzerland’s Institute for Management Development (IMD).  While at IMD, David was given inside access to The LEGO Group, and wrote his award-winning book ‘Brick by Brick:  How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry’.   David's latest book ‘The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation’ was published in May of 2017 by Harvard Business School Press.  From 2010 through 2017, David was a Professor of Practice at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he taught Innovation and Product Design. 

David currently runs MIT’s largest executive program, the Executive Program in General Management. He teaches in MIT’s MBA and executive programs, consults with global Fortune 1000 companies on Innovation and Product Management issues, and is a frequent speaker at corporate events and industry trade shows. David holds an MBA and PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois.  David and his two children are members of the Cherokee Nation.

Part of the Illinois Computer Science Speakers Series. Faculty Host: Nancy Amato

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