What is my role as a design mentor?

Perhaps I can learn from the institutions of academia and business orthodoxy to discover what the best mentors do.

  • Put the relationship before the mentorship.
  • Focus on character rather than competency.
  • Shout loudly with your optimism, and keep quiet with your cynicism.
  • Be more loyal to your mentee than you are to your company.
What the Best Mentors Do
It’s not about making people more like you.
Mentoring with Designlab
Since August of 2018, I have been helping people who are actively seeking a shift in their careers as they learn user experience design. Designlab is training the next generation of designers.

A Generalist

While I was working at a web agency, I was trying to maintain a competitive edge in my abilities as a designer by becoming a generalist as both a web designer and web developer. I took pride in the craft of design by taking on the Bauhaus approach of a better understanding of my materials to be able to innovate as a designer. As a result, our agency was one of the first movers in the responsive web design movement, and this became a point of market differentiation for our agency that led to award-winning work for the agency and recognition of our leadership in digital transformation.

The Great Reset is as an opportunity to reimagine our social architecture. In that sense, every human being on this planet is a designer as we explore how we imagine, design, and build the future together. We are a planetary builders collective, building leaders to design a resilient society.

“David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.”

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized world
Range : Why generslists thiumph in a specialised world is Epstein’s latest book. He examined world’s top performers, inventors, forecasters, thletes, artists.

A Historian

Designers hold the office of priests in our culture. In the days of the pharaohs and kings, the priests had the magical ability to read and write. Literacy was a closely guarded secret of the intelligentsia and the elites in the courts of the ancient monarchs. The tools of the trade have improved over the years: tablets, hieroglyphics, papyrus, alphabets, paper, printing presses, books, newspapers, radios, televisions, computers, and smart phones. Now, we have come full circle, back to tablets again.

Rebuilding Our World
I was interacting with a colleague regarding the process of capturing snippets of life through microblogging on Tumblr, and it made me think of r/place on Reddit. It makes me wonder what might happen…

A Sociologist

There are cultural moments that define ways of thinking and working and building that become prototypes of a new social architecture for an entire generation. The Bauhaus, as evangelists of modernity, became a centre of social and cultural transformation that has been an invitation to the world to engage in the process of building our modern cities.

Mental Models for Human Experience
Transcending human-centered design, this is design that seeks to learn from nature, to put into practice the knowledge and principles of biomimicry to reimagine and redesign our environment, to reconnect ourselves to our own humanity and to reconnect us to the earth and all living things.
Understanding Human Experience
The conversation about design is evolving as the scope of design expands from physical artifacts to living systems. Increasingly, we are exploring ideas about organizational transformation and social…

We also need to be aware of the cultural moment that we are in and the ideologies that shape our social, economic, political, and ecological environments.

“Yes, exactly. You’ll hear me sometimes refer to neoliberalism as a faith system. I actually think it is. It has its own doctrines, its own High Priest, especially in the banking system. In the government, it’s very much structured like a religion. I would say it’s a quazi-religion. Part of the faith system of neoliberalism is, as I mentioned before, that everything is traced to individuals making rational decisions in the marketplace. So there is a kind of blaming the victim that goes on in neoliberalism.”

— Bruce Rogers-Vaugh

Yes, exactly. You’ll hear me sometimes referred to neoliberalism as a faith system. I actually think it is. It has its own doctrines, its own High Pri...
Mon, Jul 20, 2020 10:11 AM; Duration: 0:38

A Scientist

I cannot claim to be a scientist, but we are using the scientific method in our approach to researching, experimenting, prototyping, testing, and iterating to discover the design solutions that will be desirable, feasible, and viable.

The Science of Creativity
User experience design is the science of creativity. We have applied the scientific method—hypothesis, experiment, test, repeat—to the study of human behaviour, so that we can design usable product designs. We use different terms: define, prototype, test, iterate.

I can also call attention to those who have done the work to run experiments to test hypotheses as a way to better understand the reality in which we live.

Believe the science. We must choose the authorities on which we will rely for areas of understanding that are beyond our own personal limits of comprehension. If we can do our sensemaking collectively, we can make much better sense of our world.

We are discovering a convergence in the ideas of science and spirituality. If we had been paying attention, there never was a division. The antagonisms and conflicts between science and spirituality have been manufactured by the institutions of orthodoxy, who police ideas.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Buckminster Fuller
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

A Chaplain

As designers, we work with the metaphysical properties of human experience: the social, the economic, and the political.

Cultural Evolution, Social Physics, and Metaphysical Design
The spiritual vision of the Bauhaus was a faith in people’s ability to transform society for good by breaking down divisions and working together toward a common purpose.

By considering the metaphysical, we get closer to understanding the reality of human beings as part of the holobiont that we call Earth.

Regenerative Future
How do we define the different elements of the social system to be designed through the lens of our core values? In a holobiont, we are a host to multiple symbiotic biological communities that require the equilibrium of the relationships of the individuals for the health of the whole.

“The job of theologians is to define ways to articulate the relationship with God and the world that does not collapse the distinction between God and nature, but allows for a relational understanding of God’s presence within the natural world that is inherent to what it means to be natural.” (33:11)

Sarah Lane Ritchie

In the age of the anthropocene, as designers, we need to be pushing against the dominant death cult of a business-oriented design thinking that prioritizes corporate profit and business viability as the purpose for our time, energy, and creativity. Instead, we must shift to an Earth-centred design practice that decentres humanity and recognizes our reality in a much larger and more complex ecosystem.

A Political Rebel

I am hoping to help students understand that design is political. We are learning to speak the language of empire. As we learn the lingua franca of a visually-oriented culture, we have a political choice to make.

Will we trade our time, energy, and creativity in exchange for money in service of corporate scarcity, competition, and domination? Or will we use our influence, capacity, and agency to reimagine our social architecture and build a new society based on abundance, collaboration, and equity?

Radical changes are required within our social, economic, and political systems that can be the legacy that we leave to the next generation: organizational biomimicry that more efficiently uses resources while understanding the biological and ecological limits of capitalist consumption.

As designers, we speak for people in power. We use visual storytelling as a medium of persuasion to convince people to make decisions, which, at scale, have significant social, economic, political, ethical, and ecological consequences, whether they were intended or unintended consequences.

For that reason, we must build resilience into our design thinking processes to bring to the forefront of our conscious intentions an awareness of our ability to cause greater problems than we are able to solve. At the centre of the concept of resilience is the assumption that things can go wrong. The internal combustion engine and its dependence on the burning of fossil fuels has created a social, economic, and political environment that imperils the ecological systems on which all living things on Earth depend. The world is working exactly as it was designed.

We must take responsibility for the work that we put into the world. We need to hold each other accountable to a code of ethics. To take back our power as designers from advertisers, marketers, public relations representatives, and human resource managers, we can recognize the power of collectively coordinating our actions by sharing our experience, resources, and knowledge with as many people as possible with the intention of dismantling the corporate monopoly over public discourse and rebuilding the public square.

A Leader of the Resistance

We are watching the fascist takeover in real time. Corporations use social, economic, and political violence to dominate the arena of the market and to secure their power, in a form of globally-enacted theatre to relive the glory days of past empires.

As designers, we have power to give our time to what is important and necessary and required. We also have power to withhold our labour from the very systems that are built to oppress us.
Delete Facebook
The burning of the American Empire and the Earth is the responsibility of every Facebook executive and employee who might be saying to themselves, “I was only following orders to keep my well-compensated position at Facebook.”

As a design mentor, I am a leader of the resistance against the corporate coup d’état described by Chris Hedges in his writings about the Christian fascists who have been actively working toward the political power grab that we are currently witnessing in the American Empire.

A democracy should protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them, but increasingly the United States is failing to do so. This investigative and persuasive documentary blends the insights of philosophers, authors and journalists with the experiences of citizens of the Rust Belt in the U.S. Midwest, where the steel industry once flourished, but where closures and outsourcing have left urban areas desolate and hopeless. It’s here that Donald Trump finds some of his most fervent supporters, as he’s not considered part of the hated Washington establishment.
Journalist Chris Hedges, argues that the crisis predates Donald Trump’s election by many years. Like his source of inspiration, the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul, Hedges regards Trump as the symptom rather than the disease. Decades ago, U.S. democracy began selling its soul to big corporations. Lobbyists and corporatism took control in Washington, gradually undermining the will of the people. Journalist Naomi Klein recently described Trump’s administration as a “corporate coup d’état”. Hedges and Ralston Saul argue that the real coup took place long before.
The Corporate Coup D’État — White Pine Pictures
A democracy should protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them, but increasingly the United States is failing to do so. This investigative and persuasive documentary blends the insights of philosophers, authors and journalists with the experiences of citizens of the Rust Belt in

“I don’t fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.”

— Chris Hedges, paraphrasing Jean Paul Sartre

We are infiltrating the boardrooms of corporate power to push back against the idea that humans are resources for the extraction of monetary value. Instead, we are advocating for people, for living, breathing human beings who we are empowering with technologies and tools to dismantle corporate power and the social architecture of systemic racism on which they have built their power.

Power to the people.

Black lives matter
Photo by Chase Baker / Unsplash