I changed my name when I got married. Twelve years of happy marriage later, I changed it back.

Image credit: The Graphics Fairy

Part 1

I was born Sara Lynn Cantor. Sara for my father’s grandmother, Sylvia. Lynn for my mother’s grandfather, Louis. And Cantor because my dad, and his dad, and his dad before him, all had the last name Cantor. It’s a Jewish name, referring to the musical leader in a temple, and I was always pretty happy with it. Cantor is easy to spell and pronounce, near the top of the alphabet, and has no obviously terrible nicknames.

However, as a young…

How to reboot your program for the realities of COVID-19

Many social sector leaders are dealing with the same question these days: how will we change our program to respond to both the public health guidelines and the needs of our people? Especially for those of us who work face-to-face, convene groups or host events, a lot of nonprofit programs are in need of major changes. How will we build authentic relationships? How will we provide quality experiences? How will we reach those without reliable access to technology?

At Greater Good Studio, we certainly don’t have answers to these challenging questions, but we rely on a process called human-centered design

Before founding Greater Good Studio, I worked for an innovation consulting firm. Our clients were mostly large corporations, and we used human-centered design (HCD) to help them grow their businesses. Sometimes we designed improvements to existing products and services; other times, we envisioned entirely new markets and categories. HCD felt like a powerful tool, but after many years I struggled to care about my work — if we did our jobs well, customers might be better served, yes, but ultimately the value creation was for our clients. Corporations making more money.

This is not a debate about capitalism, but suffice…

“Who else does this?”

At Greater Good Studio, we get the question all the time. From designers and researchers looking for meaning in their work, and from social sector folks looking for innovation in theirs, everyone wants to know who else does what we do.

They’re asking about social design, a field which really has very little definition at this point, but nonetheless a field which we are trying to simultaneously understand, define, support and lead.

At first we’d rattle off the handful of “big players” — at least, big by our standards — IDEO.org, Catapult Design, Firebelly here in…

A question for designers, and the clients that hire them.

Photo credit: Frankieleon via Compfight

What do you call your people? The reason I ask is that it matters. Design is about people, and we spend half our days trying to understand people, build rapport and relationships with people, empathize with people, explain and advocate for people, tell stories about people and create things that people will use.

Use. That word is important too — because in design, we call people “users.” This term can be off-putting to those outside of design; they think it sounds weird — either techie (computer user) or addict (drug…

By Sara Cantor Aye, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Greater Good Studio

Working with clients like Katie and Chris (co-founders of Infiniteach, an autism innovation company) was a no-brainer. Sadly, not every client is so easy to choose!

We founded Greater Good Studio out of a strong desire to align our work with our values. We knew we wanted to make a positive impact on the world. But exactly what kind of positive impact? And just how would our work align with our values? In the beginning, we had no idea. So as we took on new clients, we relied on our gut feelings a lot.

Fortunately we were pretty good at listening to our own intuition. We’d banked hard on our guts just by striking…

Sara Cantor

Sara Cantor is a creative leader and human-centered designer focused on equity, inclusion and social innovation.

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