Risk Getting Fired

This ingredient and many more can be found in my book, 101 Design Ingredients To Solve Big Tech Problems:

You see most clearly when you’ve got nothing to lose.

Teams who fear making mistakes will never try anything different to change the world.

Stand up for something you believe in, and back it up by taking risks that show your conviction. Become an innovation subversive.

  • Prove it works first
    Set up a crack team to create a proof of concept that demonstrates your way is a better way. This puts you in a far more powerful position than before, when your ideas were just opinions. If you decide to quit, at least you will have left on a high note.
  • Change the scenery
    See if you can move into a more interesting role, even if it doesn’t exist yet. Come up with a business proposition that covers all the benefits, and pitch it to your boss and potential new boss. Get a mentor to advise you. If it will make you happier and the business gains something valuable, it should be a win-win situation.
  • Start your own company
    If you’re ready, quit and let those who can support your new venture know what you plan to do so you can hit the ground running. Understand the consequences of your decision, though, so you don’t go into it blindly. With the right expectations, preparation, expertise, and clients, there’s no reason you can’t be successful.

If you’re interested in buying my book please have a read and let me know what you think :-)

Why Chief Design Officers Need To Lead In The Boardroom

Putting design leadership to define strategy makes good business sense

“A successful digital product strategy uses validated learning, scientific experimentation, and iterative releases to deliver products and services as a cross-functional team that accurately meet customer and business needs with a minimum waste of investment.”

- Eewei Chen, How To Create Awesome Digital Consumer Products


Many traditional methods of advertising and marketing are no longer effective alone at convincing consumers to choose products. Early work by Dieter Rams whilst as Design Director at Braun has allowed the likes of the late Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ives at Apple, Jeff Bezos at Amazon, Peter Schreyer at Kia and Choi Gee Sung at Samsung to draw a direct correlation between a quality customer experience and product sales, making design the most highly valued aspect of product design. 

What does a CDO do?

Chief Design Officers (CDOs) ensure products market and differentiate themselves through awesome aesthetic and customer experiences. CDOs look after all design aspects of a company’s products and services, including product, user experience, industrial, service and package design and in some instances, content strategy, advertising, marketing, and engineering.

Here are  the Top 5 things a CDO (or having a CDO mindset) needs to achieve:

  1. Foster a corporate design culture. Expansively factor design in early, often and throughout the product definition process, including leading the strategic planning, early and continuous design validation, development and support of tactical and innovation efforts.
  2. Constantly measure and improve experiments. Empower and adapt Lean Startup and Agile approaches to make abstract thoughts and inspirations into proof of concept prototypes, validating assumptions, reducing risk and mapping to the most important business metrics with a minimum of upfront investment.
  3. Apply a sympathetic human-centred design approach. Take the lead to not only understand customers to better define products and services but also ensure marketing and advertising address important needs to build long-lasting, loyal relationships whilst still meeting business needs.
  4. Collaborate and perform as cross functional teams. Connect important disciplines, drive and support delivery, maintain a shared understanding of changing requirements, create a self service and knowledge management ecosystem, give total transparency of  progress through the use of online guidelines, best practices, access to proof of concept experiments, relevant business metrics and usability research recommendations.
  5. Simply processes and principles. Reduce process, improve work practices, encourage ideas and experimentation, solve problems and free teams up to do what they are best at. Enable organisations to improve what exists tactically and make innovation useful.

Further Reading:

Good Enough Is Not Good Enough

How trust, passion and a customer focused approach to digital consumer product delivery will allow organisations to remain super-relevant and innovative.


We’re in danger of delivering too much too quickly with no focus on quality. When the Agile manifesto was signed back in 2001 it provided new ways for organizations to develop software solutions quickly and efficiently. There’s no doubt Agile and it’s multitude of programming and tech team management techniques have transformed software delivery but to what expense? In exchange for delivering working software quickly, empowering high performance teams and collaborating with the business, organizations have lowered the customer experience quality bar to produce less than optimal digital experiences. This has resulted in the bankruptcy of companies like Kodak, Blockbuster, Borders and Tower Records only to be replaced with the likes of design led companies like Instagram, Netflix, Amazon and Apple (iTunes).

The Challenge

As Agile evolves and we begin to adopt Lean Startup methodologies, there’s an opportunity to re-focus efforts to better validate the five “W”s and one “H”1. These are the “Who”, “What”, “Why”, “When”, “Where” and “How”. Admitting that “Who” our customers are includes both consumer and business, is a start but we now also need to know “What” and “Why” they want to do, “When” and “Where” they will engage and create solutions that provide “How” they will be able to succeed in completing tasks. It’s no longer good enough to just deliver solutions based on best practices that appeal to a wide audience. We need to get better at matching specific customer behaviors to important business metrics and deliver measurable outcomes that make a real difference.

The Solution: Good Design equals Good Business

It’s no accident fortune 100 companies with good design portfolios are out performing their competitors2. By applying a user centered design process to digital consumer product delivery, we strengthen the link between customer value and business value. Tools like the Business Model Generation Canvas3, highlight how important business decisions can now be more accurately prioritized knowing based on return on investment. We need to focus on the sweet spot at the intersection of web, smartphone and the printed newspaper experiences to deliver more holistic and contextually aware digital experiences.

There are three distinct phases to delivering successful digital products effectively:

  1. Insight and Strategy phase: Solve the right problems and aim to innovative.  Identify and fix problems that are preventing awesome content and experiences from reaching customers. Start by filtering through relevant customer trends and market opportunities; analyzing true customer intent and competitive benchmarking to prioritize ideas most relevant to the customer and to the business. Understand what it’s going to take to really delight customers.
  2. Proof of Concept Phase: Fail Fast, Fail Early. Using Lean Startup4 methodologies, aim to rapidly create experiments to test most rewarding and most risky assumptions first. Validate ideas with real customers in their natural habitat, for example at a football game or on a bus; continuously evolve and improve these ideas  till you have something amazing and super useful. Do this with the minimum of upfront investment and greatly reducing the amount of risk early before going into the Agile Delivery phase.
  3. Agile Delivery: Continually support, inform and improve. Even if you’re not a tech company, you still need to define the right tools, common platforms and processes to deliver digital services more effectively.  Make it a best practice to include a cross section of skills and empower individuals to perform as a truly cross-functional team; breaking down existing siloes, leveraging platform capabilities to recommend new requirements more naturally. Establish a practice to continually validate and recommend improvements throughout the Agile delivery process; and as a result, free up valuable time for the likes of marketing, commercial, business and editorial teams to focus on creating compelling content rather than dealing with the technological process that delivers it.


Stop delivering digital solutions that miss the mark; ones with too many unnecessary features and that only replicate the printed newspaper. Start getting better at delivering trusted content and building trusted relationships, with customers and advertisers, where it matters most. Do this together as one team.

Start analyzing the incredible data collected externally and internally. Utilise this understanding to surface up deeper, more personalised experiences. To beat competitors you must not only deliver digital experiences that meet customer needs, but create ones that surpass them. Doing all the above, will see your organisation attract more new customers and retain existing ones; ensuring your survival for many, many years to come.



  1. http://blog.journalistics.com/2010/five-ws-one-h/
  2. http://tinyurl.com/d54faqm
  3. http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas
  4. http://theleanstartup.com/
  5. http://agilemanifesto.org/