The delicate dance between design and change within an Indigenous organisation

As designers, we support organizations to innovate quickly by driving culture shifts and shaping new ways of working in order for people to be prepared for big, exciting changes. But what if the organisation’s culture is deeply intertwined with the traditions, practices, and ideologies of the people it’s serving? What is the role of design when changing the culture means changing the very essence of the organisation?

Sometimes, the most powerful thing a (service) designer can do is exercise our simplest and purest tools and allow them to take shape naturally within, and through, an organization’s complex culture. Rather than trying to change the culture of this organisation, we used design to put the diverse cultural norms at the centre of driving these new innovations and bold changes. Cultural tension, resistance to change, indigenous wisdom, and designing for inclusivity and equity are all converging within this online learning project case study.


Heather Daam, Innovation Designer, The Moment

As a designer, design researcher and facilitator, my wheelhouse is any collaborative practice–empowering people to bring their expertise forward and using design as a catalyst in order to create relevant and inspired solutions together. I bring my experience working in public, academic and private sectors across Europe and North America to tackle complex and meaningful challenges with kids, neighbours, elderly people, bankers, HR teams, innovation teams, service designers and teachers – and sometimes all together in the same room!

I have spoken at conferences and events around the world, led and facilitated countless workshops with both designers and non-designers, and have created and refined endless tools to make all these adventures come to life! Whether I’m knee deep in post-it notes or tending to my plant babies, I always find energy from my bottomless coffee cup.


Dr. Alexandra Makos, Lecturer, OISE University of Toronto

I am a researcher and lecturer at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), the University of Toronto. I completed my PhD in the design of educational technologies. I currently teach two courses that are focused on the intersection of play, technology, and social media - one focuses on early childhood development, and the other on adolescent development. My research interests are diverse because I have had many opportunities to work across disciplines throughout my career. My current research agenda is focused on: designing courses to optimize social interaction in online learning environments; exploring ways to integrate social media tools into online learning environments; the design of intelligent recommendation systems for increased learning engagement; and educational mobile application design. I regularly conduct workshops on online instruction, online learning, and online course development.