Collective Creativity

What Designers can do to prepare for AI

7 steps to sit (and when sitting) at the AI table

1. Become AI literate

Learn about the different forms of machine learning and logic. 

2. Link business goals to societal ones

I always say that “Context drives curriculum.”

  • Learn about and develop socially-aligned learning outcomes.

  • Learn the UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Read the Declaration of Human-rights.

  • Get a copy of the Wisdom Economy Card Deck, to understand multi-capital approaches to impact measurement and understand basic human needs.

  • Then map these societal goals on to the mission statement of your company and get creative with business leaders on how to rethink the profit formula.

  • This is the kind of work I do in my consultancy and that I teach to my graduate students. Its not terribly hard. But it is what business people call “out of the box.”

3. You are modeling

As a teacher of machines you are modeling the way to be and your consciousness matters.

  • First do no harm: 

    • Since we are human, we are biased. Understand your biases and how you can overcome them.

    • There are lots of tools on the web. Ask your HR person about the D&I tools you can use.

    • Hire and work with diverse teams.

  • Then Embrace Optimism.

    • Identify the changes you want to see in the world.

    • Align your work and surround yourself with others that want these changes too.

    • The machines you help create are going to amplify what you do.

    • Strive to be a better person. 

4. Define dynamic learning objectives

Be a great teacher of machines. Great teachers think in terms of learning objectives and they don’t limit students by what they know. Learning objectives are dynamic.

As you apply your mapping from societal need to learning objectives, focus on verbs and not just nouns. Nouns have time limits, especially in our business. 

  • My mentor Bill Moggridge gave me this great advice as I was building the IxD programs at CCA.

  • For example, we don’t teach specific design tools, we teach meta-learning and how to approach any tool to get what you need. 

  • Much of our curriculum is defined by verbs that don’t change.

  • You can find those for your ML objectives too, they will depend on your domain. 

5. Stand up for brave conversations.

Working together, People can do wonderful things. Difficult conversations take skill.  An amplifying wisdom technology to learn and practice is what I call “brave conversations.” This is about effectively speaking the truth in order to have a stronger voice at the table, a voice that points out common needs and can be heard.

One of the most critical missing skills from the standard design toolbox is forecasting (also called foresight, scenario planning, futurism). Designers often have useful tools to look 1-5 years out, e.g., through extremes, trends, unmet needs, but beyond that, we tend to get lost.

Strategic forecasters have many rigorous ways to forecast 10+ years out by looking at social-cultural, political, technical, political signals and trends and developing forecasts.

In addition to forecasting, taking the future back to the present is called backcasting, which is critical to making the forecast actionable.

6. Develop forecasting and backcasting capacity

7. Beyond shame and drama and have fun


We don’t move forward by pointing the finger. As soon as we identify a Hero, we become Victims, and we give up our power. Instead, we need to find commonalities and motivations for why things are the way they are. Then we can move into systems thinking and bring people along to change.

  • Move beyond finger pointing

  • Try playing games, such as Red Teaming, to better understand consequences

Beyond right-doing and wrongdoing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.
— Rumi, The Wagon