These tools make the same 5 questions accessible for different people and moments. Everything here is free to use. I only ask attribution* and that you share your experiences with me and, if comfortable, with others.
Use the <> buttons at the top right of each row to see more!
Here is a single, print-quality PDF of all these resources.
VIDEOS (click < > for more)
This 5-1/2 minute video includes an introduction, examples, and resources.
Innovators' Compass is 5 questions that unstick us. Created by Ela Ben-Ur, inspired by many different people and practices, and in use from preschools to the US Conference on AIDS.
INNOVATORS’ COMPASS 2: GETTING UNSTUCK USING EACH SPACE
This 2-1/2 minute video walks how we find breakthroughs for our challenges in each Innovators’ Compass question—and will answer your questions about compass design, too!
Ela Ben-Ur coaches an entrepreneur/leadership development professional in seeing his landscape of challenges (4 min), building the Innovators' Compass from his own experiences (9 min), and using it on a personal challenge (22 min). Thanks to filmaker Gregory Mang for donating his time!
The Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning, the new graduate school of education in partnership with MIT, has chosen to use design, practiced using Innovators' Compass, as a central competency. See Dan Coleman, Chief Learning Officer, and their cohort of teaching students in action!
Xheni Mucelli, a Teaching Candidate at the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning at MIT, shares images of using Innovators' Compass to review her teaching with peers, design her classroom, mentor students.
Miami teacher Valeria Rodriguez shows Compass templates she gives her students to help them express their understanding at the start and end of science projects, and that she creates to support collaborative conversations with parents at conference time.
Erin Quinn, a middle school educator in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who's class was "homeless" for half a year until their new school was built. She shows and tells how she used Innovators' Compass with her class, in conjunction with other Design Thinking tools, to enable them to design their own class "space" and culture despite this.
Dawn McWilliams and Mitch Davis, Principal and Assistant Principal of an Elementary charter school in Aurora, CO, walk through Compasses made by their teachers to collaborate on school culture topics, and with students resolving a conflict in the school office.
Catherine Stines describes three ways she and others use Innovators' Compass at the Darrow school: for student social-emotional learning; for staff collaboration; and in her professional work, enabling people at conferences to collaborate around shared challenges.
Audrey O'Clair shares her use of Innovators' Compass app, icompass.me by Hieu Nguyen, to enable educators to collaborate around their application of a tech app.
In this short video and beautiful images, Garrett Mason describes how he and others in the international development organizations CorpsAfrica and PACT use Innovators’ Compass. He describes using the questions directly in communities, as well as using the Compass as a framework to bring together methods and mindsets of human-centered design and participatory design.
Two more beautiful videos about Garrett Mason's incredible human-centered-design work with CorpsAfrica in Malawi. Each gives a lovely little shout-out to the compass, which Garrett used as an over-arching tool, complemented by other human-centered design tools like empathy maps.
At a cafe on a busy street in Boston’s Innovation District, Kyle Savage talks about using Innovators' Compass in a user interface design firm—to offer a usable design process for the team, scaffold client meetings and engagement, and support his individual creative process.
Dawan Stanford, Director of Design Thinking at Elon University and I talk about making Design Thinking accessible.
Bogata-based educator Chris Davis got curious at the end of SXSW Edu in March 2017 about the background of design thinking and my work, and asked me to sit and chat with him for his podcast. Note: the sound dramatically improves at 16:08.
Recorded in August 2015 for their Results May Vary podcast about what would happen if we used Design Thinking in our daily lives, Tracy Deluca and Chris Waugh ask great questions about the development of the compass. While it has evolved considerably since, the discussion is great and the core questions still hold.
BY ELA BEN-UR
I'm honored to have the last chapter "Developing Portable, Powerful Design Thinking: The Innovators' Compass" in the book Taking Design Thinking To School edited by Shelley Goldman and Zaza Kabayadondo of Stanford University’s Research in Education and Design Lab (Routledge, November 2016). I can't post it here, but will happily send you a copy.
Short blog post with practical tips, written for the design collaboration platform Mural.ly (online sticky notes!), which has kindly included the Compass as one of its framework templates (along with Business Model Canvass, Empathy Maps, and others).
In response to Nicola Chin's thoughtful questions, including: Tell me about your passion project? Who's shoulders are you standing on? Your greatest learning? Challenge? Fear? Risk? Fun? How are you organizing people for this project?
HIGH SCHOOL and COLLEGE Course descriptions
More details and materials around Compass-based course: Caroline Meeks’ app design courses at Prospect Hill Academy Charter High School; and my design-with-an-older-adult course with anthropologist Caitrin Lynch, and design-your-life course, at Olin College of Engineering
I’m honored and grateful that Tom VanderArk and Justin Aglio posted this lovely, short overview in Education Week and Getting Smart—sharing the Compass with many new educators!
Tara Martin's wonderful book about using our human technology to educate includes a chapter about how she adapted and used the Compass to understand and support educators when she began as an administrator. Thank you for educating from the heart, Tara, and enabling people to do so—including with Innovators' Compass!
Dan's Medium piece highlighting a a project he did with his English students using the Compass that bridged English and Engineering to design for characters' needs in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Erin Quinn's medium piece about working with a class to use the Compass, alongside other wonderful tools, to design their own, inclusive, culture.
Psychologist and administrator Ari Yares wrote about the Compass to help his family co-design a way through the chaos of family mornings and lunch packing.
Assistive technology coach Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles shares her and other educators’ experiences with the Compass, along with the experiences of participants she helped co-facilitate at the Bates College May Conference 2018.
Anne-Marie Dorning wrote about Innovators’ Compass and its impact at SXSW EDU for the Olin College news channel.