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Albert Shum

CVP of Design at Microsoft

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Disrupt the patterns with meaningful design.
How to scale meaningful design in a multi-device world.

At the crux of the evolution are design tools and systems — things that have always been around but only recently found their modern identity tied to AI and machine learning. What used to be static graphic design manuals now span the full range of interaction design, giving companies a means to scale their identities using intelligence and automation. The sheer amount of digital experiences created has forced the investment in living design systems and design tools — a positive thing, but also an existential moment for creative professionals. Is AI more creative than you? And if intelligent tools can do all the creative work, do we even need designers anymore?

As the eternal optimist, my challenge to creatives is to adapt. Machines are skilled at seeing patterns, but humans are skilled at disrupting them.Investment in AI will only increase. But what you can do as your creative, human self is find the intent within all of these experiences and bring meaning to the forefront. Design in a way that brings the human back in. Here’s a guide to scale meaningful design:

Build the table
table diagram
Design has won its seat at the table — now take it further.

Don’t just take a seat at the table. Build it. Re-imagine what it means for design to have an influence and build the prototype for new ways of working and connecting to people. As our capabilities grow in the modern age of design tools, we need to use those skills to foster innovation in pace with technology. That comes first from fostering an intersection of disciplines and backgrounds, considering the meaning of both “Design” and “Designer” to include more perspectives and bring everyone along for the vision.

That’s not to say it’s easy — it takes time to make impactful organizational change. But ultimately championing human-centered design thinking and creativity helps develop more inclusive practices, create essential experiences for people, and drive real business impact. Build the table and use it to evangelize for meaningful design work.

About the Author

Albert Shum

CVP of Design at Microsoft
CVP of Design at Microsoft. Leads a collaborative team of designers, writers, & researchers creating the future of Microsoft 365 experiences. Views are my own.

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Machines are skilled at seeing patterns, but humans are skilled at disrupting them. Investment in AI will only increase. But what you can do as your creative, human self is find the intent within all of these experiences and bring meaning to the forefront. 

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