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Book The Intergalactic Design Guide: Harnessing the Creative Potential of #Social #Design

Design has built global brands, disrupted industries, and transformed our lives with technology. It has also contributed to the complex challenges we face today. In The Intergalactic Design Guide, business strategist and designer Cheryl Heller shows how social design can help address our most pressing challenges, from poverty to climate change.

Social design offers a new approach to navigate uncertainty, increase creativity, strengthen relationships, and develop our capacity to collaborate. Innovative leaders like Paul Farmer, Oprah Winfrey, and Marshall Ganz have instinctively practiced social design for decades. Heller has worked with many of these pioneers, observing patterns in their methods and translating them into an approach that can bring new creative energy to any organization. From disrupting the notion of “expert” by seeking meaningful input from many voices to guiding progress through open-ended questions instead of five-year plans, social design changes how humans relate to each other, with powerful positive impacts.

The Intergalactic Design Guide explains eleven common principles, a step-by-step process, and the essential skills for successful social design. Nine in-depth examples—from the CEO of the largest carpet manufacturer in the world to a young entrepreneur with a passion for reducing food waste—illustrate the social design process in action.

Social design is a new kind of creative leadership that generates both traditional and social value, and can change the way we all view our work. Whether you are launching a start-up or managing a global NGO, The Intergalactic Design Guide provides both inspiration and practical steps for designing a more resilient and fulfilling future.

Intergalactic Design Guide

Many years ago, environmentalist David Orr wrote, “As homo sapiens’s entry into any intergalactic design competition, industrial civilization would be tossed out at the qualifying round.” When I first read that, it struck me as extreme that Orr laid the whole mess at the feet of design. Then I wondered if design could fix it. This book is my answer.

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“This book fills the cavernous gap between our awareness and understanding of ‘design thinking’ and ‘design doing’.”

Len Schlesinger, Baker Foundation Professor at the Harvard Business School

“There are design problems and there are human problems. Cheryl Heller’s genius is to see them as one and the same with the goal of building human capacity, not just buildings. This is the framework for designing the design process.”

David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Oberlin College

“The Intergalactic Design Guide is a call for entries to design our way out of the civilization we have created, by using our collective creativity to change the human condition. Readers will come away transformed by the realization that we can use the invisible forces of social design to create a future where we live in a state of mutuality with one another and nature. This is one of the most critical design books of our time.”

Ivy Ross, Vice President of Google,

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About the author

Cheryl Heller is the Founding Chair of the first MFA program in Social Design at SVA, President of the Measured Lab and founder of the design lab CommonWise. She created the first design department in a major advertising agency. As a strategist, she has helped grow businesses from small regional enterprises to multi-billion global market leaders, launched category-redefining divisions and products, reinvigorated moribund cultures, and designed strategies for hundreds of successful entrepreneurs. Heller is a recipient of the AIGA Medal for her contribution to the field of design and a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellow. She has taught creativity to leaders and organizations around the world.

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Her book, The Intergalactic Design Guide: Harnessing the Universal Creative Energy of Social Design, was recently published by Island Press.


Her clients have included Ford Motor Company, American Express, Reebok, Mariott International, MeadWestvaco, StoraEnso, the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, Medtronic, Mars Corporation, Discovery Networks International, Herman Miller, Bayer Corporation, Seventh Generation, L’Oreal, Elle Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, The World Wildlife Fund, Ford Foundation, Lumina Foundation, The Grad- uate Network and the Girl Scouts of America.

Heller is the former Board Chair of PopTech, and a Senior Fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab. She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999, which has since given over $13 million to designers working for the public good, and partnered with Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to create the exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%.” She is currently working on her Ph.D at RMIT University in Melbourne.

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