An exercise to solve any problem, with any amount of people

Let me just get this out of the way for those who skim articles like I do: This is a workshop exercise that you can use for ALMOST ANYTHING involving getting a few people in a room to define and solve challenges.

What kinds of things? How many people? ANYTHING. ANY AMOUNT. We’ve run this exercise to help the UN World Food Program to make decisions on how to increase donations, we’ve run it for C-Level executives at Lego on new strategic initiatives, we’ve run it on ourselves at AJ&Smart to come up with new ways to engage our clients…

Scott is the VP of Product at Adobe and Founder of Behance

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Belsky for an episode of my podcast, The Product Breakfast Club. If you’re working in design, product, or tech then Scott’s work has probably touched you in some way, whether you know his name or not.

He’s currently an executive, entrepreneur, author, and investor an all round product obsessive (how he describes himself on his website) and he’s serving as a Adobe’s Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President.

Take a look at the process of designing a successful app

If you’ve ever worked on an app, you can only dream of that feeling of pure joy when you open the App Store and see your app featured on the homepage. Then you open Product Hunt and it’s featured there too! The app was the brand-new, rebuild from the ground up version of Kevin Rose’s meditation app ‘Oak’, which myself and my colleagues at AJ&Smart were lucky enough to work on. I was personally a little worried about the redesign being taken badly (people often don’t like change) but the response was overwhelmingly positive.

A case study about how LEGO scaled Design Sprints throughout its organisation

When LEGO’s (yes, all caps!) internal agency realised they had to radically reinvent the way they worked, their approach was truly extreme: one day, leadership halted the entire production machine, and spent the next two months training up the team to become Design Sprint experts.

LEGO are one of the first companies that I have seen implementing Design Sprints, at scale, across their organisation, which is kind of unbelievable considering that they are a company that produces physical products, not just digital ones.

I’m going to headbutt the next workshop facilitator who asks me to design my own wallet

I’ve been going to design, tech, and design-tech conferences for over 10 years. And yet, over 10 years of conference-going I learnt precious little. Basically, I’m done with them. The content is usually 90% filler, talks are vague, and there’s no debate. The events are messily organised, the ticket prices are extortionate, and I feel like there’s no improvement year on year.

It got me wondering why conference standards were so low in a field that’s all about the user experience. I genuinely don’t want to offend anyone, and I know I’m probably going to burn a few bridges…. …

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Jason is a savage.

Myself and my co-host Jake Knapp had our first guest on the 10th episode of the Product Breakfast Club Podcast, and it feels like we should just cancel the show because there’s nowhere to go from here. CEO and “product beast” extraordinaire Jason Fried shared his worst kept product design secrets with us, and I suddenly realised that I have no ideas of my own. Almost everything I do was inspired by his work.

As the head of 37 Signals, later Basecamp, he wrote two books (ReWork and Getting Real) that provided some principles for both Jake’s Design Sprint and…

An already very outdated pic of AJ&Smart

Things I would tell myself if I could go back in time and meet myself the day I started my agency

A while ago I posted an Instagram story about how I started up my design agency and it got a huge response. People seemed really interested in how I got my first clients and how things got moving in the very beginning. There are loads of misconceptions out there about starting a company, so I decided to turn the Instagram story into a longer video, and now, a Medium post. This is the kind of advice I wish I’d been given when I was just starting out — it would’ve made things so much easier.

Don’t feel like reading? Here’s…

About a year ago I wrote an article about a simple exercise I created to help teams solve problems without discussion. It was called “Lightning Decision Jam” and it became a surprisingly huge hit! Since I wrote that article, people from companies all around the world have been contacting me and telling me how much it’s changed how they work for the better.

Lighting Decision Jam (or LDJ) was perfect for groups of any almost any size from 4 to 120. It just works! There was one glaring problem with it, though… it doesn’t really work for an individual. …

The tech media is obsessed with innovation. Front pages of sites like The Verge, Wired, or Fast Company tell us very clearly that innovation is all about cool, new ideas. Pragmatic iteration is overlooked as the boring rehashing of old things, while exciting ‘moonshots’ and 10X leaps are fetishised. However, the opposite is often true: the most successful companies in the world focus on nailing iterative execution, not constant reinvention.

For companies tasked with releasing new products, the urge to seem innovative can be a distraction, or worse, it could even be damaging for your company.

**The video below is…

It’s a classic chicken/egg problem!

You’ve just gotten out of University, you’re still in University, you’re changing careers, you’re just curious and you want to give Product Design or UX a go. There’s one problem though… you don’t have a portfolio, or you have one but it’s mostly side projects or fake projects, nothing that would excite anyone hiring for a design role. The other problem is, you don’t have a lot of connections, you don’t know how this whole tech and design world works, it’s dark, confusing and a bit intimidating.

Jonathan Courtney

Co-Founder of AJ&Smart, a Digital Product Design agency. Nerdy-looking Irish guy.

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