videos | August 12, 2022

Innovate for Communities, Not Individuals: David Robertson on How Cherokee Values Help You Innovate Better

Nobody lives in a vacuum. Our behaviors, needs, and desires are highly influenced by the people around us. So why does so much of our innovation center solely around the individual? MIT innovation expert David Robertson knows that if we can tap into the communities we serve, we’ll be able to develop a framework of innovation that draws people in instead of shutting them out. David is a member of the Cherokee nation, a very egalitarian and communal culture, and he’s showing us how Cherokee values can help us design for what our customers really want.

Drawing from 12 of the Cherokee Values, such as finding something “sacred” to admire about a person or living in a unified way, David helps us develop a dialogue around what matters to the communities we serve. He follows in a long-standing tradition: Cherokee innovators throughout history, from Jesse Chisholm to Sequoyah, have used these values to bring people together and design new inventions that made life better not only for individuals, but also for the communities that housed them.


David is an innovation expert and a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He’s the author of Brick by Brick and The Power of Little Ideas, which provide fresh and practical approaches to innovation. Watch David discuss some of the Cherokee values—and what they can provide to your business—below.


Why You Should Innovate for Communities, Not Individuals | David Robertson

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