here is a quiet storm brewing at the intersection of design, science, technology and business.  Leaders in industries most susceptible to disruption like High Tech have understood this for many years.  Steve Jobs defined design as “not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” It’s the marriage of creativity and technology.

Leaders in healthcare and finance are starting to embrace this reality as well. Improving health experiences through technology and design is starting to resonant at the highest levels (hxrefactored).  With the problems in healthcare being extremely complex and ambiguous, those that can converse and operate at the intersection will have tremendous opportunities, be extremely valuable and in great demand for a long time.

While the movement may be in it’s early stages in healthcare, High Tech investments are increasing – IBM recently invested $100 million to expand its design business.  Universities are responding to this call as well.  Stanford’s d.school were the pioneers in 2005. Now schools from the very selective MITs and Harvards to the mainstream ones like Mass College of Art are rapidly launching programs to address this need.

Some private, independent and the very best public secondary schools are picking up on the signals.  Mainstream schools are many many years away.  Children attending schools in under-resourced communities will most likely miss the trend entirely – prompting the same decades old conversations to persist. “Why are people of color significantly under-represented in the growing areas of the economy?”

Since our founding in 2013, innovators4purpose has been working feverishly to change that narrative.  Our aim is to identify high potential youth in Greater Boston’s under-resourced communities, immerse them in cultures of Designers, Scientist, Technologist and Business persons, then leverage our network of professionals to collectively build their skills to solve today’s most complex problems.

We are extremely excited about our Saturday program starting in September where students will participate in existing programming throughout Boston / Cambridge as well as our own at this intersection.  Activities will take place at MIT, Boston University, Olin College and many other venues.  However, we are even more excited for next summer.

We just completed an incredible pilot called “Robots and Society.” Students in grades 6-9 learned how to build and program a robot. The robots did much more than fight in a ring or put balls in hoops – these robots were designed to help people. Students started off using design research tools to understand the question “How Might We use robotics to extend the capabilities of the disabled.” They immersed themselves in the question by touring the Perkins School For the Blind, performing disability simulations and interviewing persons with disabilities.  From there they began to connect the dots to determine what mattered most, leading to incredible ideas like:

  • iGuidance | Robotic Seeing Eye Dog
  • Robotic Leg to Speed up Recovery from Sports Injury
  • Performance Trainer for Goalball (team sport designed specifically for blind athletes)
  • Vibrating Watch Baby Monitor for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Seeing Stick (obstacle detector)
  • Robotic assistant

Next summer we will build on these ideas along with some new ones.  The students were extremely excited about learning in this manner, however a post class survey detected a lack of confidence in their science and math abilities (the fundamentals of the excitement).  We are discussing incorporating a module on advanced science, math and writing and putting the appropriate follow-up measures in place.

One of the secret sauces of innovation in the intersection is the diversity of ideas among Designers, Scientist, Technologist and Business persons. Creatives working with analyticals gave the world a touchscreen phone.  Imagine the ideas that will be generated when the diversity at the intersection isn’t just disciplines, but cultures as well.


Today’s most complex problems requires innovators that can span the domains of design, science, technology and business while using their creativity to bring new ideas to life (Creative Doers).  Join us in cultivating a untapped source of Creative Doers.

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Michael K. Dawson

Co-Founder, Chief Doer, Innovators For Purpose, Inc. Creative Doing - the act of changing or influencing with the intent of leaving a mark on the world...

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