February 13, 2024
min read

AI's journey has been nothing short of remarkable

During my time at the University of Amsterdam, I had the extraordinary privilege to enrol in the pioneering batch of the "Design Thinking" course.

Marc Meyer

During my time at the University of Amsterdam, I had the extraordinary privilege to enrol in the pioneering batch of the "Design Thinking" course. This course was meticulously structured around a groundbreaking book that, to this day, remains a pillar in the Design Thinking community: "Designing for Growth" by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie. The course frequently turned to AI for imaginative exercises. We would often ponder, “what if this task could be delegated to a machine?” or “envision a scenario where this step is rendered obsolete; how would it ripple through the entire process?” Such hypotheticals, once considered mere intellectual indulgence, have now edged closer to reality.

The instructors shared a particular graphic during our inaugural class. That very visual is etched in my memory and served as the catalyst for penning this blog, nearly ten years post that enlightening experience. You may wonder, why bring up a ten-year-old book that delves into a methodology that might seem antiquated to some? Interestingly, the underpinnings of that graph and the continuous stream of AI advancements and headlines we've witnessed recently are intricately linked. 

The methodology delineated in the course left an indelible mark on me. It encapsulated the art of creation and enhancement in a manner unparalleled by any other framework I've encountered. The structure can be distilled into four pivotal steps:

  • What is
  • What if
  • What wows?
  • What works?

Navigating through these stages is like piecing together a puzzle. First, we start by laying out the big picture, much like charting a journey. Next, we identify the important pieces, similar to mapping out the value chain. Then, we sketch out our ideas, creating mind maps. This leads to fun brainstorming sessions, where ideas bounce around like a lively game of catch. From there, we shape our ideas, test them out, and make quick changes, just like adjusting a recipe to get it just right. It's also about teamwork: we join forces with our customers, working together to make something special. And, with a hopeful heart, we present our finished puzzle to the world, always ready to learn and adjust.

But if we zoom out and look at the bigger picture, it's all about:

  • Setting the stage with some research.
  • Spotting cool opportunities and dreaming up ideas.
  • Checking how we're doing along the way.
  • Making our ideas even better.
  • And finally, making those ideas come to life.

When I think about how AI fits into this picture, it's like having a puzzle-solving buddy. AI is great at handling individual puzzle pieces, but sometimes it needs a bit of help seeing the whole picture. That's where we come in. AI isn't just about cool tech; it's about working together with us. It helps us do things better, solves tricky problems, and adds a bit of magic to our projects. To get the best out of AI, we just need to remember that it's awesome at its own tasks, but teamwork makes the dream work.

In conclusion

What seemingly audacious idea of today might become tomorrow's reality? The once-unthinkable notion of a machine triumphing over a human in chess is today's truth. Similarly, our most ambitious AI visions might soon materialize. A decade from now, AI-driven systems might be at the helm of urban planning, stewardship of global assets, or perhaps even steering our societal frameworks. The possibilities are limitless. The mantra remains – dare to dream, to "what if", to be awed by "what wows", and persistently redefine "what works".

Marc Meyer

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