Keith Jarret sitting at a piano, staring at the keys
Keith Jarret sitting at a piano, staring at the keys

When we think about creativity, or more specifically the process of “being creative”, there’s a tendency to envision it as something that happens with reckless abandon. Whether it’s a group of people sitting in a room full of whiteboards, furiously generating ideas, or an artist creating a masterpiece from a blank canvas, we can’t help but imagine creativity as something that thrives without structure or limitation. But the reality of what generally fuels creative thinking for most people is actually much different.

Take the story of Keith Jarret — a renowned American jazz pianist — and his 1975 performance at…


Two men talking at a conference table, while one man captures notes
Two men talking at a conference table, while one man captures notes

Most of us have meetings. They’re an inescapable part of working life, no matter what your profession. Meetings themselves can be good or bad, which is a topic for another post, but regardless of what kind of work you do, it’s a solid bet that on any given day of the week, you’ll be meeting with one or more people you know — team members, stakeholders, colleagues, direct reports and/or bosses.

But how often are you meeting with people that you don’t know? As I look at my calendar for today, I have a handful of meetings with my team…


It’s fantastic when things go well. Generally, that’s the payoff when you’re focused on the right priorities, and your team is making good decisions on how to spend their time. For my team and I, things “going well” means that we’re leading successful workshops, and that the teams we’re working with are coming out of the sessions with impactful, user-centered solutions that they can take forward and continue developing. …


Wall full of post-it notes
Wall full of post-it notes

My team and I love Design Thinking. Like really love it. Which is good, I suppose, given that it’s a core focus of our job — going around and introducing others to the concept, and then helping them apply it to various business challenges they’re trying to solve. We live and breathe it in everything we do, both professionally and personally, because it’s just one of those things that can’t be “turned off” once you know it. We often joke that it’s something akin to that scene from The Matrix where Neo is offered two pills. One pill — the…


Does the process above look familiar? If you’ve ever had a hand in developing and launching any sort of product or service, it more than likely does. Depending on the size and complexity of the project in question, this process can take weeks or months to cycle through fully, and in the most extreme cases, can take years. Think about that for a second… it can be months (or years!) from the point in time a decision has been made about the direction of a product or service, until the time it’s launched to the market. A lot can happen…


As I’ve mentioned previously, Design Sprints have recently come into their own within the world of product management, and are increasingly being used by companies of all shapes and sizes as a way to jump start innovation and introduce more agile ways of working. As a result, you don’t have to look far these days to find a story extolling the benefits of Sprints, and citing the success of the organizations that use them. …


Companies often make decisions based on how their internal teams are organized. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but it can also be a costly one.

We sometimes forget that we are not our users/customers, and that the things we’re building need to work for them and not us. Beyond that, internal silos — while important for the day to day operations of a company — often come at the expense of a well defined end-to-end customer experience. And the larger an organization is, the more likely it is to suffer from this “organizational blindness”.

For example, the Marketing…


One of the most challenging things I believe we all face in our day to day professional lives is finding the time to do ‘meaningful’ work. It’s all too easy to spend an entire day answering emails and jumping from one urgent task to the next, only to look back at the end of the day and wonder what it is that you actually accomplished. We’ve all been there.

It’s for this reason that the concept of true, uninterrupted work seemed so appealing to my team at work — the idea of spending time focused on a single (and meaningful)…

Greg Smith

User Experience Design Lead, and Design Thinker/Sprinter

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