Template: archive.php


A Review of “The Next Era of Human Machine Partnerships”

May 9th, 2019

“Given the pace of industry disruption, now is the time to strengthen individual and organizational capabilities to engage actively in human-machine partnerships.”
– The Next Era of Human Machine Partnerships

The conversation around human-machine partnerships is valuable to everyone. Organizations and digital leaders are working to operationalize digital transformation and set themselves up for a successful future. While the article written by Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future, “The Next Era of Human-Machine Partnerships,” may seem outdated (written in 2017) it continues to provide great insight into these fast-emerging trends that will remodel society, transform the workforce, and ultimately impact how people will work. This review highlights valuable concepts that the article lays out relative to organizational transformation and the impacts on future work design.

Advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, and cloud computing will be significant by the year 2030. What are currently seen as curious technologies will soon be embedded into our everyday routines. These technologies underpin the formation of future human-machine partnerships.

The following three key takeaways from “Partnerships” frame the future of work design:

  • “Digital Conductors” is a term the writers use to define the role people will play in the future. As technology becomes an extension of people and woven into everyday lives (even implanted), there will be a suite of tools to manage, orchestrate, and automate many daily tasks. The knowledge and experience we acquire in our relationships with technology will form the foundation for our partnerships with machines in the workforce. Although we do not yet have the insight to define those work roles and relationships today, our ability to “conduct” digital transformation will be key to these partnerships.
  • Organizations will experience great impact in talent acquisition, team management, and support of professional development. Data, smart analytics, and reputation engines will seek the best talent for the job. Instead of workers competing for roles, organizations will be able to match job skills to those of the ideal candidate regardless of location. “Partnerships” defines this as “work chasing people.” As we think about this idea in the context of future work design, personal brand identity is now more valuable than ever before. Simply catching up on new skills will not be enough to keep momentum in future careers. Reasoning and problem solving, purposeful participation, and adaptability to emerging digital counterparts will all help elevate a person’s talent and value to an organization.
  • The future workforce will need to learn faster to meet evolving tasks and business needs. “Around 85% of the jobs that today’s learner will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.” How does one prepare oneself for a job that doesn’t exist? — new infrastructures to acquire the skills and knowledge to perform work. Individuals will need to be flexible, collaborate through peer-to-peer value exchange, and shift focus to creativity and critical thinking to develop new ideas and find solutions. “Partnerships” defines this “in-the-moment learning” the most valuable knowledge an individual can acquire as organizations move toward more nimble structures.

As we move full steam ahead into the future of human-machine partnerships, we need to prepare ourselves now for the impact technology will have on people in the workforce. While “Partnerships” focuses on transformation by 2030, it is crucial today to strategically rethink and adopt new ways in which we conduct work. When focusing on our careers, we need to value our strengths and cultivate a strong personal brand so that when automation of talent searching becomes the new norm, we will have a favorable position. As we think about technology in everyday routine, we should be nimble and integrate automation in our own work and home lives to achieve automated literacy. We need to think as entrepreneurs, with contextualized intelligence, to get the job done. The key to digital transformation will lie in the ability to derive meaning from human-machine partnerships.

As we look to the future and leverage thoughtful articles such as “Partnerships” to imagine our future work design, our preparation and participation for human-machine partnerships will create new value and opportunity. This is an exciting time to prioritize the foundation of these partnerships and pave the way for a more favorable future for everyone.


Related links:

IXDA NNJ Event: Visualization practices with Philip Bakelaar

January 10th, 2019


Visual facilitation practice is simply helping people “See what you mean.” Together, systems thinking and visual practice help us model and communicate about complex ideas and structures.

Image source: www.debaoki.com


Using visuals and the practice of graphic facilitation to capture ideas is an engaging and succinct way to communicate complex concepts. By capturing the flow of information and ideas in real time, participants’ comprehension and retention increases. The approach frees people from the conventional way of thinking and inspires people to approach challenges in new ways.

Image source: IFVP Facebook


Visualization practices have the power to create change and inspire innovation. In today’s organizational landscape, teams are made up of people with many different styles and backgrounds of communication and learning. Images are a universal mode of communication that can foster collaboration and improve comprehension. This practice works well when the outcome isn’t crystal clear, and the team is able to decision make and build consensus around ideas as a group. The information that is discussed in a visual session can often take weeks of back and forth digital communications.

The following criteria is a good gauge as to whether visual practices are right for you:


Anyone can pick up the skills to facilitate and represent concepts visually! There are several tools and techniques available to build and practice using a visual vocabulary. There are also Visual Practitioners and Graphic Facilitators available for hire.

Image source: Pinterest

Image source: Visual Facilitation Cookbook

and lastly,


Learn more about the event and IxDA Northern NJ

Design for good: Trends that emerged in 2018

November 18th, 2018

It has been an eventful year in the world of design. As it comes to an end, we would like to take the opportunity to reflect upon what we learned from everything that has transpired over the year. Instances of evil design ranged from subtle dark patterns nudging users to buy products to full-blown deception around the use of personal data. Collectively, these transgressions have taught us a lot about designing for good versus evil.

We recognize five key trends that have emerged in 2018 that will become the center of good design strategy moving forward:

1. Design for trust

We saw several breaches of trust in 2018 by widely used products and platforms. Among those, the revelations about data breaches at Facebook have arguably had the most impact on us.

Despite these events, the conversation about designing for trust rarely seems to move beyond specific tactics and features. What we fail to acknowledge is that firms like AirBnB have succeeded in building trust because they started doing so from the beginning. Trust guided everything from business strategy to the design of their products and services, and they have clearly differentiated themselves from the competition. It is impossible to take an evil business strategy and fix it through good design.

Interesting reads:

2. Design for transparency

Transparency is crucial for building trust. When we learned that some models of iPhones and iPads were designed to slow down in order to nudge users to upgrade to a newer model, Apple started to lose the trust they built over the years.

As technological advancements bring new capabilities for design, designers need to ask the right questions and think about long term social effects. For example, we can no longer afford to shy away from designing for artificial intelligence and machine learning, deeming them to be black boxes. A tangible first step is to ask the right questions about risk and how these technologies would impact the user. It is important for designers to keep in mind that, although many emerging technologies may function in the background, they have a huge impact on the overall experience.

Interesting reads:

3. Design for inclusion

The definition of inclusivity expanded well beyond the boundaries of accessibility in 2018. It focused on those who are disadvantaged simply because they were in the designers’ blind spots. Products that use AI have been plagued by the problems of inclusivity. For example, most of the digital assistants on the market today have a female voice by default, skewing the perception of women’s role in society. Also, algorithms, in general, have a tendency to propagate biases that are part of the data they use.

The conversation around inclusivity has shined a glaring light on the need for a process that designs with – and not for – the users. Every organization needs to make a conscious effort to define what inclusivity means to them and enable teams to develop and implement their own inclusivity toolkits.

Interesting reads:

4. Design beyond Design Thinking:

Since the focus has shifted towards the design process itself, business leaders have started to acknowledge that Design Thinking for innovation has often been used to create a false sense of security in the organization. Ideo, the firm that made the Design Thinking process scalable and accessible to everyone has finally broken its silence on why that alone cannot be the magical solution to an organization’s innovation problems.

Design needs to be baked into the organization’s culture, systems and structures. Every organization needs to find a process or platform that works for them; there is no-one-size-fits-all option for design.

Interesting reads:

5. Design for the organization’s personality

There is no escaping that an organization’s collective character and personality comes through in every aspect of its products and services. While the wrong name got the NYC startup, Bodega in trouble, Facebook’s virtual reality tour of Puerto Rico drew backlash for trivializing a natural disaster.

The channels of engagement are becoming increasingly anthropomorphic, changing everything from packaging design and interactive displays the way Coca-Cola uses them to how Amazon has embedded Alexa into our lives. It is important for design to communicate and establish this collective personality for all the touchpoints inside and outside the organization.

Interesting reads:


At first glance, one might say that these are age old principles and that there is nothing new to learn from these trends. However, 2018 showed us that somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the importance of these principles – or didn’t evolve them in keeping with the emerging technologies and our social landscape. Many organizations paid the price for this. Once we recognize evil design and its ramifications, we can learn from it to reframe and reprioritize our design values and principles and use them for the greater good.

Book Review: “Ends” by Joe Macleod

October 4th, 2018

In this book, Joe Macleod holds up a mirror to society and shows our collective social and psychological denial of endings. He assesses it through the lens of culture, religion and economics, and shows how much control we have relinquished in return for comfort, convenience and other short-term benefits. He explains that we often forget what we don’t see and we build elaborate systems that take responsibility and inconvenience out of our way. We treat our debt, our personal digital data and the material waste we generate the same way – remove it from our line of sight and out of our minds.

As he walks us through the journey that has landed us in massive global issues like climate change and economic crises, it is astounding to see that we are willing to repeat decisions and add more problems on top of what we already have. He establishes a strong argument that the challenges we face today arise from the lack of closure experiences. Joe does a great job of pulling out events from our history that could have turned out differently had they been ended well. Here are a few examples that stood out:

  • Financial Crisis of 2008 – Despite the clear understanding of the causes of the financial crisis of 2008 we, as a society continue to perpetuate the cycle and indulge in self-fulfillment that is built on large piles of personal debt.
  • Waste Management – Since the development of waste management systems we have lost sight of how we end our own cycle of consumption. This distancing from the important last step has resulted in us generating literal mountains waste that get dumped into the oceans or in landfills.
  • Personal Information – Most experiences today are designed to get users to share information at every turn. These systems now have “bomb proof storage and infinite memory” that seemingly hold the users’ information hostage. The burden of finding ways to un-share however falls on the user. This frustration has reached its tipping point and resulted in policies like GDPR.

This book provides good common design practices that we as designers can philosophically embrace as we own our responsibility to create designs that positively impact the lives of our users:

  • Designers, over the decades, learned to ignore and even deny endings. We need to create an awareness around our own biases and take proactive measures to counter them. Making closure experiences a part of our design processes and discussions is a key first step in that direction.
  • Designers need to acknowledge that users have the power to shape our economy. Research shows that closure experiences create a lasting impression on the users. This makes a strong business case to consider endings as a part of design.
  • Designers need to embrace an ecosystem approach and understand that everything is connected experientially. Short sighted and monolithic solutions that do not end well will generate massive amounts of waste upon scaling. This is something we can say about everything that generates value today.
The systems that we sometimes find ourselves entangled in feel like they are too big to understand or to deal with. This could be overwhelming to us, as both designers and users. What we need is a shift in perspective. Talking about the first time we saw what our planet looked like from space, Joe says, “Earthrise inspired self-reflection and, for a while, we all started thinking a little bit about who our neighbors were and what impact we might make on what suddenly looked like a delicate Earth.” Sometimes we just need to zoom out a little bit to be able to start asking the right questions on how to end things right.


Related links:

  1. Joe Macleod on LinkedIn
  2. Ends. on Amazon
  3. Why Your Employee Experience Needs Ethical Design : An LDS perspective

Visual Study – Leveraging Digital to Transform Supply Chain

July 9th, 2018

Change is happening all around us—so quickly, in fact, that we often fail to appreciate its transformative power. We regularly experience wondrous technologies that make our lives easier, without batting an eye. These innovations are so seamlessly integrated into our lives, that we tend to take them for granted, and feel as if they have appeared out of thin air. But, of course, there is no magical sorcery conjuring up these great ideas; innovators everywhere work tirelessly in the background to push the boundaries of what is digitally possible, and to help us realize a truly smart and interconnected society. Here are a few examples that illustrate how innovative digital transformations are revolutionizing the ways in which we work.


Location Based Services 

Geo-location services have been around for quite some time, and their quality and accuracy has improved by leaps and bounds. However, the addition of intelligent, comprehensive frameworks, that establish relationships between systems, and make relevant connections between what is known, unknown, and anticipated, has generated a modern Wayfinding experience that tremendously boosts efficiencies in transportation, shipping, and supply-chain management.

Data and Dashboards

With access to vast oceans of business data and user analytics, designers scour data systems like Watson and Google Analytics to glean insights that can be leveraged for new work solutions. The challenge, of course, lies in determining what, when, and for whom that data should be made accessible and relevant. These important questions provide the foundation for high-value, real-time, personalized dashboards and notification systems, which enable workers to make informed decisions in achieving the best possible outcomes for the business.

Smart Systems and Interfaces

People generally associate “connectivity” with being connected both to the internet and to other people. While this is accurate in a more traditional sense, the new concept of connectivity is a bit more progressive and expansive. These emerging modern systems are vast information eco-systems: digital networks connecting people with people, systems with systems, and people and systems with insights and data. This interconnectivity enables interfaces to move beyond the typical, static publishing models, and towards dynamic content distribution systems—a fully integrated and collaborative model, where content is not generated solely by humans, but also by other active participants, like wearable devices, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT (electronics, machinery and vehicles). Distributing high-value content to the digital workforce, across multiple devices, provides workers with just-in-time information, where and when they need it most, and with the highest level of accuracy and reliability. This real time content model transforms typical design interfaces into “smart” solutions.

Personal Assistants Everywhere We Go

It was not so long ago when employees had devices they used specifically for work, which they would power down at the end of the day (if they were lucky), and would not pick up again until work resumed the following morning. Today, with the emergence of BYOD and the blurring of work and home, we have moved into an “always available” mindset. Mini personal assistants go everywhere we go guiding us through both our personal and professional lives. Bots access content from our emails, calendars, chats, project management tools, and mapping apps, and keep us on track, and informed of any new developments. Furthermore, with the emergence of AI, our devices increasingly push content directly to us, based upon what the AI has learned about us, and what variables and outside influences it anticipates us running into. Digital assistants discover new relationships between content and tasks in ways we couldn’t possibly foresee, and push the content right to our devices, just in time. Personal assistants will continue to improve as the underlying AI technology evolves, and it’s all thanks to creatives, futurists, and technologists like us who continue to push the limits of what is digitally possible.

Evolving Enterprise Experiences

June 21st, 2018

The trajectory of organizational evolution can be traced through the experiences it comprises. Experiences are pervasive – we see them as collective moments of human perception, participation, and observation. They create channels for contributions that move business goals and are the mechanisms that monetize the business model. In a sense, they reflect what the organization aspires to be.

Today we can observe how digitization has influenced and created a new class of experiences inside mature businesses. Digital technology initially reduced inefficiencies and optimized individual processes. Its scope increased to cover processes across the organization and even the extended business ecosystem, leading to complex systems like ERP. These systems did more than optimize; they integrated, orchestrated and governed large, interconnected macro-processes inside the enterprise.

The impact of digital transformation

Today’s fourth industrial revolution ushers in an age of massive digital transformation and disruption. Traditional businesses, featuring a process core, face competition from transformative businesses that have a reliable, adaptable digital backbone allowing them to be nimble and disruptive. Instead of relying on predetermined operations and procedures, today’s transformative businesses continually sense and respond to events in the ecosystem.

In this context, we can observe that enterprise experience capabilities are quickly moving from orchestrating services and products to learning and predicting what the market needs. Looking to the future, organizations expect to deliver hyper-personalized services in the moment of need. We see several emerging technologies such as deep learning, IoT, machine learning and blockchain being integrated into the digital core to enable experiences inside the enterprise that drive future work.

Along with digital technologies, the emerging sharing and gig economies are enabling businesses to deliver new value to their constituents and customers. Delivered by new-age, platform-based business models, these experiences are setting the expectations for everyone else in the ecosystem. Businesses that capitalize on the exponential growth of digital technologies and apply the efficiencies of the emerging sharing economy are leading the way.

These macro-economic shifts also point to how people, both as individuals and as organizations, are evolving in step with the fourth industrial revolution. People evolve with the capabilities brought in by digital technologies. Our role, as humans, is moving away from being cogs in a wheel to becoming more socially intelligent, empathetic partners to digital technologies we create.


We are in a state of constant change. It is imperative that these changes are considered as an integral facet of enterprise experiences. We must re-imagine new, transitional experiences at every level of the organization to create ubiquitous, persistent systems that can both support and flex through all forms of disruption.

Define Your Message with a Language Architecture

June 13th, 2018

A common challenge for content strategists involves the implementation of strategy at the level of content production. At a certain point, content strategists have refined voice and tone to represent faithfully the organization’s identity. They’ve built an information architecture deeply informed by a user experience design. They’ve created several content and governance models that follow the user’s journey to ensure that each part of the digital experience fulfills its purpose. They’ve even mapped knowledge flows in the organization to get a sense of how content production would elevate organizational capabilities. In light of all of this, the question persists: what does one actually write?

Those who have developed content will know how easily the writing process can depart from a strategic vision. In order to better align protocol with strategy, we’ve developed a tool that we call a language architecture.

A language architecture is a framework that organizes the business’s overarching message into granular concepts. These concepts are distributed and contextualized across the information architecture and aligned with user experience. It provides the expressive skin to the function of your experience. The framework answers questions like: what concept would define the unique philosophy of your organization, and what other concept would convey that philosophy in action elsewhere in the experience? What concepts define the value of your product or service? Where should those concepts be highlighted in the experience? These concepts can be as abstract or concrete as you want them to be. The hard work lies in defining these concepts in the context of the business and articulating how they create meaning for relevant audiences.

Bridging information architecture to voice and tone, a language architecture ensures that the value proposition of the organization is fully fleshed out. And the concepts in the language architecture work together to ensure that the messaging throughout a digital experience is cohesive without being repetitive. Because of its scope, it is intimately tied to the requirements of the business.

Two major levels make up the language architecture and roughly map onto the information architecture: horizontal concepts and vertical concepts.

Horizontal concepts can emerge throughout the experience because they dominantly define who the organization is and what it offers. For LDS, horizontal concepts would include “digital transformation,” “new ways of work,” or “experience strategy and design.” These concepts pervade our points of view, define our contribution to the industry, and require definition and elaboration every time we invoke them.

Vertical concepts are contained under discrete landing pages and their lower level pages. This conceptual containment ensures, for example, that the business’s philosophy is 1) clearly established where it should be, and 2) doesn’t bleed into other areas of the experience unintentionally. It also ensures that while each lower-level page within a given vertical has a discreet function, it also has discreet concepts to populate content areas and align to page function. For LDS, a vertical concept would be Content ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial) – a concept integral to the Content Strategy Studio but one that ought not to invade the higher-level strategic points of view.

Each concept block on the horizontal and vertical levels displays the following:

  1. the concept name
  2. its definition within the context of the organization
  3. an illustrative example of the concept in use with the experience.

The language architecture provides a channel for clear expression of the organization’s key differentiating characteristics.

Failing to implement high-quality content can undermine even the most well-defined experience goals. In contrast, compelling, aligned content ensures that a digital experience delivers on its goals, both for users and for the business. A language architecture provides a systematic way to get this right.

Designing Beyond the Organizational Level

June 13th, 2018

Having worked in the User Experience field for over 20 years, there still remains only a handful of folks that have influenced my career. I still remember attending Jared Spool’s UIE conference back in the 90’s, frantically trying to learn all I could about usability and interface design. On June 7, 2018, I found myself thinking about that moment as I said hello to him, the “maker of awesomeness”. My company, Logical Design Solutions, hosts events for the IxDA Northern NJ local group and we were privileged to have him as the speaker for our recent event.

His talk last night, entitled, The Evolution of a New UX Design Resolution, was about a level of design beyond the organization – ecosystem level design. He explored this new level with us, showing us how we’ll need to start designing beyond organizational boundaries, and what that implies. He introduced us to the pioneers of this new design area and explained the process by which designers everywhere will need to develop their expertise.

Here are my key takeaways:

Powers of 10

Similar to how we need different cameras and telescopes to zoom in and out of different image resolutions, we need different tools to look at different resolutions of design. Each resolution (screen, application, organizational, ecosystem) has unique problems and intents, requiring us to change the way we work, and the tools needed in order to solve these problems.

Now, if we look at some of the tough design challenges today (e.g., our healthcare system), there are multiple organizations involved in working together to come up with solutions. This means we need to pull the lens out wider beyond the single organization and this is referred to as the eco-system wide resolution. Since this is so new with really challenging problems, we don’t know yet how to design at this resolution.

We need to be designers that can work at every one of these resolutions which means we need to look at how to develop people design skills. To achieve this, we need to move away from developing people as T-shaped designers which are those that have deep skills in one vertical area with light skills across all other areas. The model that Jared recommends, called the broken comb model, develops designers that have lots of different skills at different depth levels, creating well-rounded designers.

This model of learning and development puts the focus on skills rather than roles allowing designers to work at any resolution. It will allow designers to work across organizational boundaries in this new eco-system resolution and help future-proof people, so they will be able to work at potentially wider resolutions in the future.

The influence never ends.

What a great informative and educational talk by Jared as he has once again opened my eyes to the ever-evolving landscape of User Experience design. Our society has created some complex design challenges, but this talk has definitely given me some new insights on how to think about them. Time to go and grow some skills!

Exploring AR in the Enterprise: Orientation / Assimilation

June 11th, 2018

Augmented Reality (AR) changes the way we see and experience our physical environment. In the business context, this opens new avenues for innovation. AR allows us to envision enhanced experiences for workers, from orientation and onboarding, to interactive and collaborative engagements with space, people, and the work itself.


Directional / Wayfinding

Guidance for workers to acclimate to new environments. Directional walking routes and environment information are displayed.


What Work & Where

Organizational and work knowledge activated and accessed as workers move through, and interact with, their work environment. Areas of the office come to life with activity details and artifacts photographed/recorded.


People Resources

Productive and meaningful exchanges between coworkers are facilitated and accelerated by AR, enabling greater worker connectivity. People are valuable resources in a work environment — Orient to who sits where, who does what, and connect directly.

Looking Past the Obvious

April 30th, 2018

I don’t know about you, but seeing our work up on a big screen is really gratifying to me. Presenting to large audiences naturally requires the use of oversized graphics for ideal legibility and consumption, so I suppose it’s no surprise that the sheer size and scale of the visuals make the creative more impressive. Under normal circumstances, our work in digital is generally consumed on much smaller devices. A desktop monitor or laptop screen – let alone a mobile device – is no match for a keynote presentation. Seeing our design up on the big screen gives it something extra, a grandiose feeling that I don’t normally experience when seeing it on the usual devices.

In a keynote presentation, a speaker presents an engaging monologue, adding an illustrative voiceover to the visuals that tells the story of the challenges we’re solving for. It’s really enlightening to experience our own work from this perspective. Hearing the narrative played back from an accomplished storyteller paints a picture of what, why, and how the design makes an impact for organizations, not to mention the positive effects it could have on the lives of the workers themselves.

Mimi Brooks, CEO of LDS, presenting the Frontline Worker case study at the 2017 The Conference Board Innovation Master Class event.

So maybe it’s more than just seeing it in such a large format. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s being presented, in this case, by my CEO, Mimi Brooks… on this grand stage… to an audience of senior executives and thought leaders representing some of the top companies in our industry today. It’s possible that this feeling of delight isn’t a result of the large screen at all, but because of a sense of accomplishment, that we’ve done something great. Our creation is center stage and is the star of the show (ehem… along with Mimi of course). It has transformed from a mere concept to a thing of value and purpose. A work of art that’s now recognized as being worthy of the spotlight by the very audience it was designed for. As if, all at once, the big screen validates the effort that went into the design, legitimizes its value to the world, and invites a room full of experts to appreciate it. And just like that, poof! Our design suddenly has meaning.

It’s indeed a memorable point in the career of a designer, or any other professional for that matter: The moment you begin to understand the impact one’s efforts can have in people’s lives, and the feeling that you’ve made a positive mark on society.