About Karel

Karel has spent his professional career dealing with design, technology, human affect, cognition, and behavior primarily through the human interface to technology.

His current interests are in advances in design practice, design-based organizational transformation, the innovation ecosystem (design school, business school, university, entrepreneur, and enterprise), and the ways in which technology can extend, optimize, and improve work, play, relationships, education, health, and overall fulfillment.

He is director of design at IBM and responsible for IBM’s design and design thinking focused global academic programs and serves as the head of IBM Studios in Canada. He's also Industry Professor at the DeGroote School of Business, the DeGroote Health Leadership Academy, and McMaster University. 

Karel joined IBM in 1988 after having done graduate studies, research, and teaching at the University of Toronto.  He introduced User-Centered Design at IBM in 1993 and assumed a company-wide role in 1995 leading IBM's community of designers, leading the development of design methods, languages, and technologies, and leading the design of the commercialization of the IBM Watson. In 2013, he introduced IBM Design Thinking to IBM product development laboratories worldwide and introduced a tailored version of it to IBM consulting services and technology services organizations worldwide from 2014 through 2016. He next focused on the development and activation of Enterprise Design Thinking for client facing professionals worldwide and rolled that to IBM’s top client accounts in 2017 and 2018. He has also conducted workshops with the c-suite and senior executive teams of hundreds of industry leading companies worldwide as well as with startups, scale-ups, and public organizations. 

Karel has written over 100 conference and journal publications, a book entitled "User-Centered Design: An Integrated Approach", contributed chapters to other edited books and served as special issue editor for the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction special issue entitled "Designing the Total User Experience at IBM" and the "Ease of Use" issue of the IBM Systems Journal.

He co-developed the design thinking programs within the DeGroote School of Business, the DeGroote Health Leadership Academy, and McMaster University and teaches in the Digital Executive MBA program, the Emerging Health Leaders program, and the Innovation by Design pan-university program. Karel also regularly does guest lectures at various universities, keynotes at conferences, and serves on the NSERC education committee.  

Karel has spent much of his life observing people interacting with others, their world, and their technology; read widely about improving the human condition, optimizing the interactions between people, and driving effective organizational change; and has practiced what he's learned. Karel has undergraduate, master's, and doctoral level training in Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Human Computer Interaction, has taught university, conducted research, and worked at IBM for more than three decades. He has taught, led, managed, and mentored thousands of people over the years and he shares what he's learned here on this blog and in his Life Habits Mentoring podcast.

The views expressed in this blog are Karel's own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of his employer.