Ela Ben-Ur

Academic Partner


Ela Ben-Ur


  • BS (1997) and MS (1999), Mechanical Engineering, MIT


  • Connections between different practices of design, innovation, change and growth. Leveraging these connections in simple tools that can are powerful across contexts.

Ela Ben-Ur has worked and co-experimented deeply with organizations and educators interested in design thinking since 2012. The focus of her present experimentation is Innovators' Compass (http://innovatorscompass.org/): 5 questions that move us forward, distilled from many different practices, which have been used from preschools to global conferences and rural communities.

Ela worked 13 prior years at renowned innovation firm IDEO. Her design practice and leadership at IDEO spanned diverse industries, geographies, and sectors. She went on to co-found IDEO’s Leadership Studio for developing project leaders, coach teams, and facilitate for clients.

Ela has taught courses from product design to life design at Olin since 2007. She has offered workshops and keynotes through MIT (her alma mater), Sloan, Babson, Dartmouth, and Harvard, and at venues from SXSW EDU to the National Science Teachers’ Association, New England Association of Schools and Conferences, AIGA, International Development Design Summit, Front End of Innovation, and US Conference on AIDS.

Ela earned BS (1997) and MS (1999) in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. As a research assistant in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Haptics Group, she developed a force-feedback laparoscopic surgery simulator that has been patented and displayed at the MIT Museum.

Her husband and daughters are her inspiration. She loves outdoor adventures, improvisational music, and creative chaos with them.

Select Publications

Co-Author with Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer of the essay “Keeping a Diary to Catalyze Creativity,” in the edited volume Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career (The 99U Book Series), September 2013

The final chapter “Developing portable, powerful Design Thinking: Innovators’ Compass” in Stanford REDLab (Research in Education and Design)’s edited volume Taking Design Thinking to School, November 2016

Writing about my work includes Tom Vander Ark "A Tool for Finding Better Ways Forward in Everyday Challenges: Innovators’ Compass" for EducationWeek, October 2019