Confessions of a design leader on how to trick product teams (while they shelter in place!)

Geometric illustration of optical illusions using pencils.
Geometric illustration of optical illusions using pencils.
Illustrations by the author.

Since 2015, I’ve run over 30 design sprints. I’ve run design sprints at an agency for clients. I’ve run design sprints with a small team at a lean startup. I’ve run design sprints in well-funded and large-scale ventures. And recently, I have been running remote design sprints at Facebook as a product design manager.

Now, if you don’t know, a design sprint is an intensive, highly structured five-day innovation cycle developed by Google Ventures. Product teams come together to tackle a specific problem and come out the other side with a solution and, hopefully, a prototype to validate it. …


Image for post
Image for post
U.S. Patent application filed by Orville and Wilbur Wright, March 23, 1903. US821393A

Part Two: The Wright Brothers

A biography-inspired design series.

Read part one to learn how the historical figures continue influence the modern-day design leader.

In Learning to Fly, part one of the Wright brothers series, I reflected on my love of biographies. Though I’ve long enjoyed reading them, it’s only recently that I realized the extent to which I can apply the lessons in these mostly historical books to my current life as a product design leader. I found The Wright Brothers, about the men at the turn of the 20th century who built the world’s first airplane, to be particularly full of guidance.

My first piece included lessons on finding a team that challenges you, cultivating a sense of curiosity, and the fruits of constant iteration. …


Image for post
Image for post
Test Flight of 1902 Wright Glider, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Photo: Getty Images

Part One: The Wright Brothers

A biography-inspired design series.

Since I was a boy, I have been drawn to biographies of historical figures because they are about real people who did extraordinary things. Recently, I made a startling discovery: Reading biographies about remarkable people isn’t just entertaining. In these books, I have found lessons that directly relate to my specific work as a design leader.

One recent example is David McCullough’s book The Wright Brothers, a tale of the men who built the world’s first airplane. …

About

Kevin Smith

Product Design Manager @Facebook www.kevinsmith.co

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store