Monthly Meetings with the President of MIT

Imagine you were selected to serve on the honorable Presidential Advisory Cabinet for the President of MIT, Rafael Reif. How would you ever go about capturing the voice of the Institute, the diversity of opinion, the roots of these strongly held convictions? In true Darte fashion, Artiles employed her fundamental design research skills on a campus of incredibly busy but impassioned engineers, taught her team enough design principles to make them contributing co-designers, and then synthesized their findings into insights and recommendations that were presented at the Cabinet's monthly meetings with President Reif. These ideas seem to still be trickling their way onto the campus, and the lessons from working with such a beautiful people will forever be cherished at Darte, among these: don't tell people what to do, show them it's what they want to do. 

Service

Design Research, Organizational Strategy, Storytelling, Ideation Facilitation

Client

Office of the President of MIT

Year

2015

Equipped with a team of 4 undergrads and 4 grad students (none really versed in design for strategy), Artiles dug into her core educator and led the team through a series of theory and practice modules for each step of the design process. When it came time to facilitate an empathy-building workshop with alumni, Artiles had groomed her fellow cabinet members into stellar facilitators ready to take needs statements and listen for insights. 

A lesson learned from working with top MIT students applies to every design team around the world: everyone has their own ways of processing and thinking, it's a matter making the design-based approach relevant to them, and if you can translate it into their language, then that's a big plus. So, too, was the risk we took to communicate to President Reif through pinned up sketches. We confirmed— that was the first time anyone had rolled a whiteboard into the President's office, believe it or not!

Stationary

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The Artifacts

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A whiteboard in the President's Office! 

When the timing was right, Artiles led her cabinet through tips and tricks for a brainstorming session. What emerged were ideas that beautifully built off research insights and added their own innovation preferences. (It really was a stellar team.) Artiles decided it would be well worth it to roll in a whiteboard into the president's office—for the first time ever!— so Reif could experience the joy of blown-up, sketchy visual communication. It was certainly an unforgettable meeting for the space. Reif was able to capture the rawness and the roots of our ideas, and we were able to work with him as loose and candid as ever. This stuff works! 

Engage to Disengage

When it came time to gather insights on the future of MIT, Artiles thought to invite those that had been there before her to attend a version of her design sprint, the DesignShop, in order to bring some thinking tools and framework to organize the empathy-building and ideation generation. These Lifers (MIT undergrads turned grads turned staff) really got going with our PlayClay suite and were able to keep a playful, high-engagement discussion that surfaced some generational insight. 

To thank them for their time, Artiles designed and lasercut custom MIT Lifer keychains- with 3 meshed gears inside that lined up to read MIT! POMIT and FLOMIT also received their own custom pair. 

Solve the right problem.

Tools, Strategies, and Design Spotlights from Around the World— 
 

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