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Design for Good + Ethics + Social Impact with Sara Cantor — DT101 E100

Sara Cantor is a co-founder and the executive director of Greater Good Studio, where she and her team think of themselves as pissed-off optimists. We talk about design for good, ethics in design practice, and creating social impact.

Portrait of Sara Cantor

Listen to Learn About

  • Human-centered design
  • Greater Good Studio’s project “gut check”
  • The power designers wield
  • Better ways of co-designing with clients
  • Community-based design work

Our Guest

Sara Cantor is a creative leader and human-centered designer focused on equity, inclusion and social innovation. After seven years using human-centered design to create new markets for corporate clients, she co-founded Greater Good Studio in 2011 to apply the process and principles of design to the more pressing challenges of the social sector. Her team of “pissed-off optimists” has helped nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies to build internal capacity for social innovation, create and prototype new programs and services, and sustain and scale their impact.

Show Highlights

[01:06] Sara’s journey into design, and the influence of Tom Hanks’ movie, Big.
[01:45] Studying engineering at college.
[02:34] Finding her true passion during an engineering design course.
[03:52] Attending the Institute of Design.
[04:39] Discovering her love of design research.
[05:34] The first project where Sara was able to use her design skills.
[09:22] Sara talks about her early design career.
[10:31] Her rising disillusionment with the for-profit, corporate world.
[15:57] Co-founding Greater Good Studio.
[18:27] Designing for behavior change has no “marketplace.”
[20:53] Greater Good Studio’s approach to business and its work.
[21:01] Codifying the “is this the right project for us?” gut check.
[23:49] Some of the gut check questions to ponder.
[27:28] The power that a designer wields.
[29:13] Being accountable not just to the client, but to the end user.
[30:16] Helping clients share their power with their end users.
[31:18] “Sharing the Sharpie,” co-designing and building ownership of the work.
[34:58] Being able to let the client do the designing while providing guidance and support.
[36:39] The future direction of Greater Good Studio.


Sara on Twitter
Sara on LinkedIn
Sara on IIT
Sara on SEGD
Greater Good Studio
Greater Good Studio on Twitter
Five Questions with Sara Cantor
The Gut Check, by Sara Cantor
In/Visible Talks 2021: Sara Cantor – Design is Not Neutral: How to Align Work and Values
How to Change the World Designing for Good with Sara Cantor

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Design for Good + Gut Checks + Seeing Power with George Aye — DT101 E50
Critical and Emancipatory Design Thinking with Lesley-Ann Noel — DT101 E57
Innovation Culture + Future of Work + Designing Value with Marc Bolick — DT101 E93

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