Recent Writing
Published in The Huffington Post
When most of us think of the word "design" — if we think of it at all — we imagine eccentric fashion, or expensive plastic toasters, or shiny new cars. That's because America has long celebrated objects. We're a culture that, for nearly a century, has enjoyed the convenience and status of owning things. Our economy has been driven by the production of things, our government measures progress based on the average cost of things, and things give us a visceral and obvious measure of success...
Recent Presentations
Presented at IA Summit 2014, UXStrat 2014

Selected Presentations
A Means to An End, presented at UX Lisbon, 2013

Design For Impact, presented at Interaction South America, 2011

Out With The Old, In With The New, presented with Don Norman and Richard Anderson at Academy of Art, 2011

My Heart Is In The Work, presented at the IxDA Conference, 2010

The Phenomenon of Synthesis, presented at the TedXCreativeCoast, 2010

Design Synthesis, presented at the IxDA Conference, 2009

Predicting and Avoiding the Commoditization of Design Research, presented at IIT's Design Research Conference, 2009

Austin Center for Design Development of Product Form Interactive Product Design Interaction Design Studio Human Computer Interaction Contextual Research Methods Information Architecture

Online Courses

I've offered a few of my courses online. Before you take them, you might consider reading this post that describes my skepticism with online learning, or this post that describes how Udemy is an emperor with no clothes.

Methods of Design Synthesis: Research to Product Innovation

An Introduction to Design as a Process for Innovation

Design-Led Product Innovation: From Research to Insight

Selected Articles


Why I Teach Theory
Published in interactions magazine, November/December, 2014

Why Investment in Design is the Only Way to "Win" in Education
Published in UX Magazine, September, 2014

Running an Entrepreneurial Pilot to Identify Value
Published in interactions magazine, July/August, 2014

Learning Entrepreneurial Hustle
Published in interactions magazine, March/April, 2014


Stop Chasing Scale in Higher Education
December, 2013

From Interaction Designer to Product Manager
Published in interactions magazine, November/December, 2013

Published in UX Magazine, July 23, 2013

The Optimism of Design
Published in interactions magazine, July/August, 2013

The Academic Journey: Beyond MOOCS
Published in The Huffington Post, May 16th, 2013

Now Hiring: The Most Liberal Art
Published in The Huffington Post, January 7th, 2013

Trusting the Design Process
Published in interactions magazine, March/April, 2013


Transformative Learning in the Design Studio
Published in interactions magazine, November/December, 2012

Design, in the Big and Small
Published in interactions magazine, July/August, 2012

Changing the Career Outcomes of Design Education
Published in interactions magazine, March/April, 2012


Heart Of Darkness
Published in core77, November 8, 2011

Published in interactions magazine, November/December, 2011

Stupid, Stupid Client
Published in UX Magazine, August, 2011

The Conflicting Rhetoric of Design Education
Published in interactions magazine, July/August, 2011

Endless Nights - Learning from Design Studio Critique
Published in interactions magazine, March/April, 2011

How Do You Transform Good Research Into Great Innovations?
Published in Fast Company, January 12, 2011

Cultural Values That Will Make Your Office an Idea Factory
Part 2 of 3: A description of the cultural values that support synthesis.

When Trying to Invent, Being Objective Can Cripple Your Process
Published in Fast Company, January 27, 2011

Unveiling the Magic of Design: The Role of Synthesis In a new window...
Published in Rotman Magazine, Winter, 2011.


On Academic Knowledge Production
Published in interactions magazine, September, 2010.

On Education
Published in interactions magazine, July, 2010.

Jon Kolko On Design That Changes Human Behavior
Interview in Forbes, June, 2010

On Language and Potential
Published in interactions magazine, May, 2010.

Sensemaking and Framing: A Theoretical Reflection on Perspective in Design Synthesis
Published in 2010 Design Research Society conference proceedings.

Designing in the Face of Change: The Elusive Push Towards Emotionally Resonant Experiences In a new window...
Published in The New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, published by Taylor and Francis.

Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis
Published in MIT's Design Issues, 26:1, Winter 2010.


The Authenticity Problem
Published in interactions magazine, November/December, 2009.

On Hopelessness and Hope
Published in interactions magazine, July, 2009.

Our Misguided Focus on Brand and User Experience
Published on Johnny Holland, December 1st, 2009.


The Appearance of Influence In a new window...
Published in Design Mind, issue 10


The Tenuous Relationship Between Design and Innovation
Published in Artifact Magazine, Volume 1, issue 3.

Information Architecture and Design Strategy: The Importance of Synthesis during the Process of Design.
Published in the IDSA 2007 Conference.

Information Architecture: Synthesis Techniques for the Muddy Middle of the Design Process
Published in the 23rd International Conference on the Beginning Design Student.


Design as Communication: The Increasing Case for Literacy in Academia
Published in the IDSA 2005 Conference.

New Techniques in Industrial Design Education
Published in the 6th International Conference of the European Academy of Design.

TRIBA: A Cable Television Retrieval and Awareness System In a new window...
Published in the 2005 Computer/Human Interaction Conference proceedings.


Mixing Disciplines in Anticipation of Convergence: A Curriculum for Teaching Interaction Design to Industrial Designers
Published in Interactions Magazine.


User-Driven Brand Design : Establishing a Convergent Brand Experience
Published in Tweak, Q4/03.

Selected Blog Posts

Jan 6, 2013 Designer as Product Owner In a new window...
There's a creature in software companies called the "product manager" (almost always referred to as the "product guy", hammering home the unfortunate fact that nearly all software companies are full of men. For fun, I'll switch it 'round for the remainder of this post.) The product gal has a strange role, in that her focus is on product-market-fit...

June 26, 2012 Code Is Material: Why Designers Must Learn To Code In a new window...
It would seem obvious and non-contentious to say that if you are crafting a digital product, you should know how to code. It is neither obvious nor non-contentious...

April 30, 2012 Do You Want Critique, Or A Hug? How to Gain Valuable Criticism On Your Design In a new window...
One of the most fundamental parts of the process of design is the critique, a formal opportunity for the designer to receive feedback from a group of people. There's a lack of good literature on critique, although there are a few notable exceptions, and so for most, critique remains a mysterious tool...

April 15, 2012 It's Hard, And I'm Just Not Passionate About It In a new window...
Words that make me cringe. I get frustrated and annoyed with things just like anyone else, but I've never felt the sentiment of these sentences - yet I've heard them from entrepreneurs looking to start their own companies, from consultants working on projects, and from people trying their best to orbit the giant hairball that is a Fortune company...

April 4, 2012 Thoughts On Design Portfolios In a new window...
Designers are typically judged based on their portfolio of work. When I worked at frog, I encountered lots of unsolicited portfolios. The sad reality of sending a portfolio to a consultancy is that your chances of getting a job are a weighted dice roll, based on a mixture of extremely fast first impressions, serendipitous timing, and who you know...

Mar 3, 2012 How To Start A School In 10 "Easy" Steps In a new window...
When I describe what I'm doing at Austin Center for Design, the common reaction is, "You started a school? How do you do that?" I'm not exactly sure, honestly, because the process only seems logical in retrospect: I sort of made it up as I went along. However, I thought it might be informative to describe the steps I went through in a purely mechanical manner...

Mar 21, 2011 Bootstrapped Publishing - DIY FTW In a new window...
I've had a few different publishing experiences. I've published a book entirely by myself, I've worked with a large-scale publisher (owned by one of the Big Houses—Elsevier), and I've worked with a traditional and respected academic press (Oxford University Press). Here's what you can expect from a DIY approach...

I blog somewhat regularly at Austin Center for Design, and less regularly on the Blackboard corporate blog.