Michael McAllister, MiD

Design Strategist
Michael McAllister is a design strategist at the Acceleration Lab. In this role, he focuses on understanding people, their needs, motivations, and how they feel. Many people need permission to surface their needs. This is where trust building, play, and humor enter. Often they don't think their needs are important. This is where good listening comes in. Designing in health care requires Mike to engage all of these qualities to encourage others to express themselves. This allows him to access patients' inner experiences so that he can understand them, empathize with them, and then design services that truly speak to their needs.

Mike holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Drexel University and a master's degree in industrial design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. 



Passion areas

Serving others. As a former professor of design, I often engaged people living with disabilities in co-design projects with my students. At Penn, I can continue that work by using design to give voice to patients’ unmet needs.

Favorite project outcome

Listening to a patient's story helped me understand just how difficult it can be for a patient to navigate a health system when they feel very ill.

Wish for the future of health and medicine

Methods that include more natural ways of healing - the foods we eat, the environments we share, and how we care for ourselves and each other.

Favorite innovator

Dieter Rams for his clarity, Jasper Morrison for his understatement, Leonardo da Vinci for his utter genius

Favorite innovation

The birch bark canoe - a beautiful solution that expresses a very deep understanding of materials combined with such elegance.

Favorite quote about innovation

“Keep it simple stupid.” - Kelly Johnson

Favorite travel destination

Italy. The beautiful language (music to my ears). The kindness and generosity of the people. The old men in the piazzas with their handsome weathered faces. The food! The art! Need I continue? Mexico City. What a magical and sonorous place! The use of color.

Little known fact about me

Inside I’m a total classic Sagittarian!

I could teach you how to

Understand Wabi Sabi, do woodworking, meditate

Favorite quote

“Do no harm.” - Hippocrates. This quote has served to keep me out of a lot of trouble!

The best advice I've ever received

Serve others

Favorite downtime activity

Restoring old broken things and extending their useful life. I recently began casting vivid blue urethane feet directly onto some old rotting picnic table legs. What are those little touches that can both add beauty and bring new life?

My Pet

Haley is our beautiful furry four-legged rascal, our perpetual pre-schooler. She is always curious and in everybody's business, but full of love for everyone. She is a classic mutt from the SPCA. "Hybrids" make the best pets!