Designing for Humans

Who are you designing your life and work for?

It’s a strange question, yet many of us find we design things around us for something — a system, an idea, a circumstance — that has little to do with the humans involved. This week, we’re going to help change that.

We’re going to look at the science of creating laughter, speaking the language of design and evaluation (impact!), applying design thinking to our lives and work, strategies for organizing yourself, and the psychology of procrastination (and how to beat it).

There’s a lot more to help you innovate for real-life humans, like you.

Thanks as always for reading, sharing this, and sharing your thoughts with me. We might be apart, but we are not alone.

Keep well and creative, Cameron

Designing Ourselves

The most important human in our lives is ourselves — even if we see our most important contributions as service to others. Without an ‘us’, there’s nothing else. So performance, mental health, creativity, and resilience matter — especially now.

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ new (and second) book focuses on applying design thinking to our work. They have realized that the fundamentals we use to solve problems and create products can be applied to ourselves and how we work. You might find you as the focus of your next design project.

They aren’t the only designers focused on this. The Accidental Design Thinker blog provides a personal account of how design thinking can help shape a person’s life. The blog is a great resource and includes useful, practice-based lessons for how to apply design thinking and service design in the real world.


Innovation is largely a group activity so learning to work together well and effectively is as important for us humans as anything else we’ll do.

Diversity extends far beyond inclusion to performance. Scott Page has been researching the power of bringing in diversity of perspective, backgrounds, and experiences to our teams and profiles his findings in his new book. The lesson: bring in people less like you to get the best from you.

One of the advantages of diversity is the benefits of getting different points of view. We can also increase this benefit in ourselves by engaging in perspective-taking exercises. As research from the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative shows, we can make better decisions as individuals and as organizations when we adopt a view of others, not ourselves.

Another way to increase diversity is to find it in front of you by creating better networks. Greg Satell tells us that a networked organization doesn’t fit an org chart, it defies it. It’s also one that has freedom to grow, naturally. That means facilitating connections, then getting out of the way.

Diversity’s value also comes from taking a systemic view and noticing who and what is affected by our choices. In this provocative piece by Owtcome founder Krasi Bozhinkova, we see how inclusion can impact climate change and why a complexity-oriented, indirect, and inclusive process to addressing problems is a way to improve our innovations and our impact

Humanity at Work

Procrastination — on even the smallest things - is as human as it gets when it comes to work. Most of us do it to some degree. Research on the psychology of work has found reasons why we do it and how to overcome it so we can put things off less and do more, more often.

Another human quality — especially during the pandemic - is the fog that can come from being overwhelmed with sensations, demands, and thoughts. James Surowiecki’s profile of the Get Things Done method might provide you with a way to circumvent the problems of fog and get your brain and your work more organized and get you more time back.

Sometimes we consider tools as a means to help us work and create, but which one to choose? The answer is: the tools you use. Halle Kaplan-Allen argues that we spend too much energy choosing the ‘right tools’ when there is simply no perfect option. If I choose it and use it, that’s the best one to work with. The less we own, the less owns us. Wise advice.

If you’re looking for tools - the Cense Resource Garage is a perpetual home of articles on tips, tricks, and techniques for design thinking, foresight, evaluation and innovation practice. Maybe there’s one you’ll use here.

Tools & Research for Change

Laughter is as human as it gets, yet research show’s most of us aren’t doing it enough. Psyche has prepared an evidence-based guide on how to laugh more, better, and often and help us to reclaim some humanity along with a smile.

Strategy is easily spoken about and notoriously difficult to develop and implement. Atlassian has shared a list of tools that it’s found to help frame competitive strategy that we all can use to help us winnow all those ideas and organize ourselves and see our work in light of our competition.

What are the tech trends that are going to shape us in the years to come? Amy Webb and her team at the Future Institute Today just dropped their massive 2021 Tech Trends Report that profiles a wealth of patterns and activities that are currently shaping our world and for the year to come.

Thanks for reading. Please share this with those you think could benefit from it as sharing what we know is one of the most human gifts we can give each other.

I hope you find many more gifts until next time. - Cameron

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