IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference

Past Events

May 19-20, 2016

Our goal for the Strategy Conference is to build on insights from emerging trends and behaviors we observed in the four preceding city tours San Francisco, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Detroit. We are bringing some of these drivers of change to the IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference. While the high level of speakers and conversation will be the same as before, the format has changed to enable everyone to contribute to the content. The speakers and additional strategists, thinkers, and business leaders will lead focused discussions and work sessions on how the changes we are facing impact specific industries or domains, and how we can apply strategic design-driven approaches to address them.


Conference structure



Thursday, May 19 

7.45 Check-in + continental breakfast at MATTER
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza #1230
8.45 Opening remarks 
9.00 Provocations
Provocateurs introduce emerging trends and topics from the four city tours
Cory Kidd
Victor Lo
Silvia Lindtner
10.15 Break
11.00 Provocations
Amy Kaherl
Jamshyd Godrej
Anijo Mathew
12.15 Lunch 
1.45 Creation
Creators lead groups in workshops and discussions on application areas or new approaches for dealing with complex problem space inspired by the morning talks
5.00 Adjourn
5.30–7.30 Reception
IA Collaborative, 218 S. Wabash, 9th floor

Friday, May 20 

7.45 Check-in + continental breakfast at Morningstar
Morningstar, 22 W. Washington
8.45 Opening remarks 
9.00 Creation results 
On-stage share-outs from the previous day’s workshops, five teams, 15 minutes each
10.15 Break 
11.00 Creation results
Four teams, 15 minutes each
12.00 Lunch 
1.30 Integration
Integrators synthesize, speculate, and suggest based on the content of the previous 1.5 days’ content
Marisa Gallagher
Cory Kidd
Doreen Lorenzo
Anijo Mathew
Tom Mulhern
Sam Pitroda
3.00 Break 
3.30 Integration continues 
4.50 Closing remarks 
5.00 Adjourn


During the first morning, provocateurs will challenge us by presenting ideas driving change. These will include the confluence of robotics and AI, the emergence of the maker movement, carrying out sustainable design while world’s middle class grows another billion people, the rise of innovation in China and India, and the trend to applying strategic design to social challenges.


In the afternoon of the first day, creators we will lead small groups in exploring how these provocations will impact industries, services, environments, information, and strategy. The application areas will include broad areas like health, learning, work, the future of food, social innovation, the changing nature of design services, and the role of innovation centers inside organizations. Brief share outs will take place on the second morning.


During the last afternoon, integrators will transform wide-ranging ideas from the previous 36 hours into enlightened insights via on-stage discussions and debates. Integrators will describe early indicators of how design and strategy are changing.


Strategy Conference $1,500


Creator workshop themes

Ayush Chauhan—Government and Policy
The need for reform within governments and public institutions across the world has never been more acute. As the relationship between the governing and the governed gets rebalanced, governments are forced to think of new ways of delivering on services that are more responsive to an even more demanding electorate. This is especially true of emerging economies of South and Southeast Asia, where the scale of developmental challenges that beset nations is grossly mismatched by the knowledge and capacities that public institutions have to address it. While governments take stock of this widening gap between expectations and their capacity to deliver, other developments have emerged that point to new ways in which these challenges may be overcome. New actors from the fields of social enterprise and social innovation are actively questioning and reimagining the role that businesses have in restoring social equity. Access to technology and communication platforms has given people an ability to self-organize and crowdsource and even crowdfund solutions. Democratic forms of production and consumption of media has ensured that ideas spread virally. This is certainly one of the most exciting times to be thinking of how we can move forward into the 21st century anchored in principles of inclusive growth.

We will examine some of the most pressing challenges of our times, whether it pertains to health, environment, financial inclusion, energy, or food security. Participants will bring a varied set of issues and challenges from their respective contexts. Through an exercise of design fiction and the inspiration from the opening session of the conference, we will arrive at speculative futures that demonstrate how proposed solutions for chosen challenge areas reposition and reimagine the role of governments vis-a-vis the general public.

Steve Collens and Maryam Saleh—Healthcare

In 2014, the US spent over 3 trillion dollars to deliver healthcare services to Americans. With an aging population, there is increasing pressure to find lower cost solutions to deliver healthcare to sick patients and better yet, prevent people from getting sick in the first place. One of the biggest challenges to disease management and prevention is that patients don’t adhere to their treatment plan. While high touch methods involving real people continuously coaching patients throughout their treatment plan yields the best results, the model isn’t financially sustainable. This workgroup will review how Catalia Health hopes to help patients adhere to their care plan with interactive robots. We will then review how other stakeholders in the industry are approaching this problem and how we might achieve better outcomes by encouraging collaboration across the industry.

Thomas Heffner and Dennis Smith—Government and Military
Creating a culture of innovation sounds great, but how do you get started? Focusing on our experience in making substantive change in the DoD and government environments, we will leverage three opportunity areas that have shown to be extremely successful. Specifically, we will explore innovation challenges, building communities of innovation, and, most importantly, creating organizational permission and empowerment to innovate. Together we will synthesize the key insights and learnings of this conference. Following that, we will help you translate those into tactical concepts and solutions that can be implemented in your organization.

Melanie Kahl and Mariola Panzuela Malgosa—Education

India has more honors kids than the US has kids.

The US is ranked #36 in PISA education scores. Asian and Scandinavian countries lead the way.

It’s no secret the education system in the US faces a myriad of challenges, especially in an ever-competitive global landscape. Chicago is not an exception to that. In our conversation, we’ll dig into the issues around educating the next generation of innovators.

During the our session, we will use one to two local case studies to bring underlying education challenges to life and be joined by guest Martin Moran, director of design and innovation at the Francis W. Parker School. We’ll animate the issues using personas of key stakeholders, such as students, teachers, and collaborators. To generate new ideas, we’ll revisit the learnings we unpacked from the morning session and apply a methodology to help us cross-pollinate ideas. These exercises of empathy and innovation modeling will be useful frameworks attendees can apply to other challenges they encounter in their work.

Ruben Ocampo—Cities + Tourism
Borrowing from corporate practices, leaders in city governments are making significant efforts to turn their organizations into efficient innovation ecosystems that attract appealing businesses, residents, institutions, and visitors. In this group conversation, we will review an innovation maturity framework developed by Conic Group to assess innovation capabilities in large organizations, discuss their potential application to innovation efforts at the city level, incorporate relevant content from the conference’s morning lectures, and develop proposed frameworks for how city-level institutions should approach their innovation efforts. We will focus this conversation on the topic of leveraging innovation in technologies and trends in social behavior to support a city’s tourism efforts.

Adam Selzer and Lena Selzer—Social Innovation
Come experience the role of human-centeredness and rapid prototyping when designing for social impact. Dive into all the fun that emerges when human-centered design collides with state agencies and large nonprofits. Bring your energy—this session will be hands on and highly participatory.

Brianna Sylver—Education
The United States’s K-12 educational system is experiencing an inflection point in its history. The full spectrum of K-12 stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, and school, district, and state administrators) are speaking out regarding summative and interim assessments—the frequency of them, the number administered per year, the ways that districts and schools are using these assessments to evaluate teacher performance, how unsupportive these assessment often are in creating meaningful and rich student learning environments, etc. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators desire formative learning environments where students and teachers are offered safe, supportive, and trust-based learning experiences—experiences that encourage experimentation and redirection and do not reduce every action in the classroom down to a “score.” Solutions and systems are desired that celebrate the art of teaching and can facilitate the process of learning in the classroom in a meaningful and real-time way. Teachers and administrations want to positively affect the quality of education provided to all students (under-achieving, average, and gifted students) on a day-to-day basis. However, a plethora of tensions and constraints stand in the way of this vision. Among them are measurement systems used for the allocation of state funding, school and district technology budgets, state educational policies, etc. Come join me to envision and co-create how we might create safe, trust-based learning environments in our classrooms today using the concepts of our conference provocateurs as initial points of inspiration.

Farid Talhame—Sustainable Business Models
Machine learning and the maker movement are just a couple of factors contributing to the shift from economies of scale to economies of choice; but does an economy of choice lead less waste or simply more diversified waste? As the cost of technology decreases and the flexibility of manufacturing increases, citizens at all strata are collaborating, thinking, and hacking their way towards amazing social innovations. Leveraging Patrick Whitney’s Whole View framework and user criteria from one of the world’s change centers, small teams will to build upon learning’s from the provocateur sessions to explore the new meanings and opportunities for businesses large and small to meet user’s needs in a more sustainable way. The concepts will be expressed through value-webs and activity systems during the share-out session.

Carlos Teixeira—Manufacturing
Traditionally, product manufacturing has been considered a distinct phase from research and development because mass production systems require detailed design and planning before starting large-scale production. However, the emergence of open hardware, digital fabrication, flexible manufacturing, and robotics is enabling the integration of research, development, and manufacturing as an iterative, agile, and continuous process in product design and innovation. In our group we will develop frameworks and conceptual models for understanding the emerging new modes of production and interpret their implications for design and logistics in the industries and markets most likely to be disrupted soon by these developments: consumer electronics, retail, healthcare, and transportation.