Creative Leadership Toolkit: Curiosity, History, and Discovery | John Maeda | Skillshare

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Creative Leadership Toolkit: Curiosity, History, and Discovery

teacher avatar John Maeda, Design Partner, KPCB

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      New Lesson: Listening (May 2016)


    • 2.



    • 3.

      Your Assignment


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    • 5.



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    • 7.



    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Update: This class originally launched in 2015. In May 2016, John updated his class with a brand-new lesson on the importance of listening, inclusion, and building diverse teams. This new lesson is now at the top of the video playlist.



Get inside the mind of John Maeda. His leadership at the Rhode Island School of Design, MIT Media Lab, and KPCB has inspired the world to dream bigger and better about ways to bridge design, technology, and art. Now, he brings that leadership to Skillshare.

In this 60-minute adventure, learn how to seek, shape, and achieve a truly creative career. No gimmicks, no tricks, just real wisdom. Go behind-the-scenes with John as he explores curiosity, why history is the heart of innovation, how to instigate discovery, and the core of creative leadership.

The class journeys through examples from John's storied career, includes a project to put the lessons into action, and features exclusive interviews with a dozen creative leaders, including: Behance Founder Scott Belsky, Design Within Reach Founder Rob Forbes, Airbnb Founder Joe Gebbia, and Cooper Hewitt Curatorial Director Cara McCarty.

Who is this class for? Designers seeking new paths, enthusiasts discovering their creative identity, entrepreneurs eager to start a new type of company, and so many more.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

John Maeda

Design Partner, KPCB


John Maeda joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2013 as Design Partner, where he works within KPCB's ProductWorks program helping entrepreneurs and portfolio companies to build design into their company cultures. He served as the 16th president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) from 2008 through 2013. During his tenure, RISD saw increased applications, fundraising, and career placements. Prior to RISD, John spent 13 years at the MIT Media Lab as a professor and head of research. There he also led the Aesthetics and Computation research group, which pioneered new kinds of human expression on the web. His career bridging the intersections of graphic design, computer science, art, education, and leadership earned him the distinction of being named one of the 75 most influential... See full profile

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1. New Lesson: Listening (May 2016): Well, if you've seen the first class that we made, it was largely about leadership and how to lead as a creative person. That class launched, and I was so happy to get to do it. But I've been wondering about it. I have been wondering if it was missing another piece. The great thing about that moment of getting that class together, was it was maybe like three quarters of a year into my understanding of Silicon Valley, and the tech ecosystem across the nation. I was still learning. I was like you know, that curve I'm learning kind of thing. I realize one piece I was missing was, the most key skill in leadership, which is listening, listening after you've led. Then I began to wonder, was it going to help people who were leading? Could do a good job. At that same time, we began hearing this phrase, "Unconscious bias", all over the tech ecosystem. Unconscious bias, I know that. It's something where your brain thinks this is okay, because everyone is doing it and seems to make sense. But suddenly you say, "Is that the right thing?" In this case, it was a question of in Silicon Valley, this diversity in tech, #diversityintech concerned, are there enough women being represented in the tech ecosystem? So, I look back at the class we made at Skillshare, I look back at everything I had done in like a year, and I asked myself, "Was I helping that, or was I just like everyone else? In my own unconscious bias. Was I male focused, or was I balance focus? I found out that I was male focused. I wondered why, and it began a search to understand how that happened. So people wonder how bias occurs. Did I do something wrong? I feel bad that there is something wrong. Situations create biases or the outcome of bias. For instance, when I first came to Silicon Valley, I was introduced to 20 designers across the ecosystem. Nineteen of them were men. So, if you asks 19 men to introduce you to more designers, they are going to introduce you to people like themselves, so more men. All it took, was asking instead. Asking a woman, asking a person of color, people of different backgrounds came all around me. But the most important thing, is that the conversations got better. It isn't a question of how to make things right, it's a question of how to do things better? The beauty of unconscious bias is you think you're doing the best way possible. Because you're taking methods you know, and they worked, and you're doing that. So, it was my realization that we had to bring in better ideas. If you wind the clock back to like 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, only a few kinds of people used computers, but now because of smartphones, everyone uses a computer. So, the computer has to accommodate lots of kinds of people. If a certain kind of person, makes that certain kind of tool, on a certain kind of smartphone, it's going to have undecided biases, for the person that made them. So now, I have someone else who's a bit different. They're using that thing and they're like, man, this doesn't feel right. This was designed for someone who thinks like that. When we talk about diversity and inclusion, it isn't a nice to have, it's a need to have, and not a need to have just out of moral issues, which do exist, it's practical, it's better thinking. It leads to better communities, it leads to new opportunities. The Design Intech Report, certain businesses are high lit for being inclusive. Whether it is LittleBits, a company that makes a genderless stem toy. It counteracts this long term held idea that computers were boys toys, and opens up to all genders, to the work of Tristan Walker, to address a simple problem that I had no idea, that if you have a coarse curly hair when you shave, it leaves little nodules, and it's very uncomfortable, and to design a product for that community. Its the example of products start up addressing it. But you can also be an artist, and make a huge difference for a community. There is a photographer in San Francisco named Helena Price. Who launched something called the Techies project, which counteracts the stereotype, that all techies are white young men wearing hoodies. Yes, there are tons of them. You can watch them on TV, and stereotype even further. But when you visit her project, you see photographs of people of all backgrounds, in technology economy. All ages, participating in the technology economy, and you begin to question, did what you think, was your bias correct? Then you break your conscious bias. If you are an engineer, like I was an engineer. It's very easy to stay in your sort of code world world. but the best engineers today are people engineers. People like can work with other people. When you work with other people, the only way you'll get better with people, is to be with more kinds of people. In the same way for an engineer, you want to know different software languages, know different people. In the case if you're a designer, you can't help but gravitate to a certain kind of design, certain kind of design people, certain kind of design heroes, but once you pluck away the history of design, you'll find incredible biases. You'll find that most design history is built on white men, and you wonder weren't there like other kinds of designers, out there? So, pick a part of that, and you'll find some of the designers that we miss. We always think about Charles Eames, but there was Charles and Ray Eames, and people will often say Ray Eames was more badass than Charles Eames. Artists that I love, are the ones that I find are the most inclusive. So there's something about the arts that creates inclusion, that's vital. So, if you're an engineer hang out with more artists, who are in that space. For designers who are so stuck on pure design, just get out of your thing. I think to get to the listening phase, and to see if what we made matches up, and figure out how can we improve it? Does take us back to curiosity, it's kind of like in a sound of music and it takes us back to doe. I guess I'm now even more curious how to integrate more inclusive practices. I love social media because I can learn, I can stalk different people's thinking. Sorry, that's a bad word, but you know, what is that person saying? One time I read something about how there was a person who will not accept being on a panel, if there are no people of color or women on this. This happened to be a white man. I said, "that's a good idea." So, half a year ago, when I was invited to a panel, I said, "Well, I'm not going to be on this panel." I feel very lucky that I'm Asian, an Asian male, I like being a type O minority, I've gotten to experience what it's like to be included, but not fully included. Even more recently, just to get to be more awake around inclusion and looking back at things I cared about to make a more inclusive world, I had this great accident in the late 90s, where I was at MIT. That Chancellor calls me up and says professor Meada, I'd like you to now lead the Culture and Race Committee. It was in that committee where I began to see the world differently. I began to see that even MIT, all kinds of inequities were happening on campus. To all kinds of people, didn't matter what color your skin was, or your background. But it wasn't until a Native American student came to the committee. He was sitting in a big council, like a Jedi moment you know, sitting, and he's talking about experiences he's had. So, I tried to say, well you know I'm Asian. So, I've experienced things. I've had a bottle thrown at me. I've had people call me all kinds of things, and that's uncomfortable, I know where you're coming from. He looked back at me. He said to me, "You have no idea, what I've gone through. You've experienced immigrant racism, I've experienced indigenous people racism. It's completely different." It was from that moment I realized it everyone's hurt is different. You have to listen to that hurt, because it's always different. Only until you can listen to everyone's hurt, can you move past it. The neat thing about listening, is it's also coded with, you know, can I hear? Because some people can't. Think about seeing. Some people can't see. So, there is this wonderful bias in that word so I apologize. I would say that we all can do a better job of sensing, by leaving our maker world. You know that is? Your maker, your Skillshare, you're like typing away, you're drawn away, you're making, you love making, because making is awesome. When you're making, you have to shut out the world. When you shut out the world, and you make, and you have that moment, you know, that kind of excalibur moment, kind of wake up and say what's is this, what's this doing and not just do people like it, is it in tune? Can it make a difference? Next time, can I do better? In my career, I've always questioned everything I've made, and buys it as a general habit. 2. Introduction: Hello, I'm John Maeda, I am partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. I'm also the chair of the eBay Design Advisory Board. Before that, I was president of RISD for six years. Before that, I was professor at the MIT Media Laboratory for 12 years. Before that, I was regular designer student, technologist, et cetera. This course is an exploration in my own process, which I didn't know what the process was actually. Seriously, because a lot of what I do, I try not to give it a structure. Even if you hear the structure, please don't be limited to a structure, just as a caveat. Curiosity is how we enter something, look for something, diverge from a path, history, context, some time and space. We go looking into, rummaging through to try to figure out how things are the way they are today. In that process of rummaging, searching, you'll discover something. Maybe a few things or you might not, and keep going back and forth until you find something new. Lastly, as a leader, you'll take that discovery and sit on it, wait with it, figure out how to use it, and whatever team building you're trying to go after as a creative leader. Once that's working, you'll get real bored and figure that's as good as it can get, and you're going to get curious again and go back into history, and discover, and take it into your leadership, and you're going to keep on doing that over and over, hopefully. Throughout this class, you're going to see a lot of my friends, and idols, mentors, colleagues that we have gone on a journey to capture their voices and thinking. I look forward to your learning the same stuff that I learned from them. Let me give you a sample of who we have reached out to to learn from. We have Rob, founded Design Within Reach, most recent in PUBLIC Bikes. President of California College of Arts Steve Beal. We have Scott, founded B-hats. We have Joe, who co-founded Airbnb. We have Danny who founded Lit Motors. Enrique and Ben, they founded Designer Fund. Robert, former IDO The Love of Money, he's also Google ventures. Braden and Jake, Google ventures. Cara from Cooper Hewitt, main curator there. Bennett Quirky and Jake at Local Projects. We're talking to all these people because I'm curious. I want to learn what's out there. I want to learn how people think, what they've been thinking. I want to discover through hearing their processes, and hopefully through it I can lead in my own work better. What I'm hoping in this final project is you'll do something similar to what I did because I wasn't sure how to begin this process. Reach out to some of your mentors, ask them how they became what they became, ask them what they think you should do. Collect these things, look at the history of different professionals that you're curious about. Try to invent a new kind of version of it, and imagine a path to leading yourself. Who will you become? Who will I become? I know I've changed my mind over what I might become. Why is it important? It's because I think we're always designing ourselves. So, I'd like you to design yourself and not be stuck thinking about this is the last time you'll design yourself. Accepting the fact there is no linear career path anymore, there's a jagged in career path. In a jagged career path, you have to keep on being creative, redesigning who you are. 3. Your Assignment: What I'm hoping in this final project is you'll do something similar to what I did because I wasn't sure how to begin this process. Reach out to some of your mentors. Ask them how they became who they became. Collect these things, look at the history of different professions that you're curious about. Try to invent a new version of it and imagine a pathway leading yourself being audacious enough to challenge it and asking how you keep the courageousness to go all the way through whatever path you want to design and define. I believe in all kinds of formats for any type of expression. So, I hate to mandate things. I'd like to suggest the following that you collect interviews whether their audio or text or video, call them down into a set that you think represents what you want to become and what you prefer not to become and shape yourself. What will you become? Express what that person is and then describe how you'll become that person. Who will you tap? What part of your network do you need to grow? Who you need to learn from? That would be my hope. 4. Curiosity: If you're not curious, you're staying on the prescribed path and you're generally safe because the prescribed path was made by someone before you, or was told by you that that's the right path and so, you don't get eaten. To really effectively wield curiosity, you don't need courage, you just need audacity. You need the willingness to be open to the moment and not thinking too hard about it. What you need courage for, is for what happens after you've been curious. Let's say you're like, "Oh no! " Woah! I didn't expect that." You don't need courage to overcome that. If you're weak-willed, if you are like, ''Oh, I'm audacious and I'm curious'', and like, "Aargh" and give up. Then, what was the point of being curious? So, you have to have the courage to say, ''Well, I didn't expect this, I guess I'm going to have to take it on. This is uncomfortable, now I'm going to forge forward through it.'' All good? Hi, my name is Ben Blumenfeld, partner here at Designer Fund. Hi, my name is Enrique Allen, also part of Designer Fund. We invest in startups co-founded by designers, and we also produce a design education program called Bridge. For me personally, my favorite part of any phase in my career has been when I've been totally naive. Right now, I'm Designer Fund, we are new to this. We are so curious about everything, why is this work this way? Are there other ways to do it? We were questioning everything, right? We've talked to a lot of people and they're like, "That is such a huge advantage, you guys don't have this history." We're like, "Oh, it needs to be done this way because that's the way it's always been done." I came that way into Facebook the same way all right. It's like, why are we pushing product out this way? Why don't we design this way? Why don't we team up with engineers this way? Eventually I got to a point where I know how to do a Facebook product. I know the process. Then the curiosity, you probably artificially constrained yourself because you're like I know this is how it needs to be done, I know a kind of the process and within that like all I'll find other little micro-optimizations. Scott, you are someone who's known as I think a businessperson who mastered design and mastered designer business, in my mind. How did that happen? When I was in college, I was taking a lot of business classes, but I started taking these classes in the DEA (Design Environmental Analysis) major, and one of the first projects was a topography project of capturing every letter of the alphabet in ordinary objects and it just was one of those, you know, silly projects, but for me it just made me realize, "Oh, my goodness, everything around us is an O or D or an A". Then I started taking more of the classes in DEA and then senior year, one of my final projects in DEA of redesigning a resume, because I couldn't believe that everyone was representing themselves with this black and white Microsoft Word document. I thought, "Gosh! Shouldn't there be a better designed way of representing your talents, your skills, your interests, and your experiences." This was in 2001, where it was there certainly but it wasn't like it is now. I think that was where I became interested in information design. But I didn't call it that. I didn't even, in fact, think that I was learning to design, and I just thought it was communication of ideas. Then, I think I had a traditional business job after graduation but everything I kept doing on the job that I felt I was noticed for was design-related. It was taking information and using Adobe Illustrator until it presented a certain way to my colleagues who, typically, saw something printed out from Microsoft Word. So, I was always using design to make things understood. I think that people who are curious or stay curious when they're older, have generally had good experiences being curious. I think those people who refused to be curious, just like had really bad experiences, a lot of them when they were younger, and they were like, "Woah, this is bad to be curious." I think, in my case, I generally had a good experience being curious. Like SkillShare. What is that? I don't know? Guys show up. They have cameras. What did we learn? All kinds of things. Robert Suarez,I've trained as a former industrial designer. I spent most my time consulting at IDEO, a great innovation design firm. Almost two years ago, I left it to change my life, and started as employee number one here at Level Money, building an organization and product from scratch. My most recent change, now, is that I'm going to go off and try something else. I am going to follow my curiosity to the next thing. I honestly don't know what that is yet. I think we're all curious. I see it in kids. You know, I work with kids. You're all very curious. I think everyone is curious. There is not a curious person, in my opinion, a non-curious person. Recognizing that it is curiosity and recognizing that there is value in there, is something that our school system and gets kind of engineered out of us. People like me, I have to come back to it. Like retrain yourself to be curious again. I think a lot of people get out of natural world and they are very curious and they're very inspired by things. But they don't recognize that directly can translates to a solution. For everyone, once they kind of become what they perceive as experts in an area, they stop questioning everything, right? Then I think you have to, otherwise you're going to drive yourself crazy. But, I would say, I think it is important to every so often come back and almost take that total naive mindset of what you're doing or, like, should I be doing it this way? Take a total step back. Should we be doing it in a totally different way? The curiosity comes from asking questions about what doesn't make sense. Like, I was a big fan of Sesame Street, the what are these things doesn't belong here? Those three other things, kind of, the same. So, you keep looking for what doesn't quite fit. When I saw computers in the old days, the Mac ship with a microphone that people put in their desk, no one really needed them at all. So, what happens is with this microphone, I wondered, well, what else could it do besides sit in your desk. The result of that curiosity was what's called the rack two square, which is ten squares that respond to sound that are now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. By some weird accident, curiosity led to a new part of history. If you're curious about how to do something better, you're going to look to history to see how it was done. You'll dig as deep as you can because you're, kind of, unsure of yourself, and keep looking, and looking, and looking. Along the way what happens is that, you feel really depressed because you realize, "Wow!", there were really smart people back then. If you dig more, there were really smart people back then even further. At some point, you discover something. You discover, "Well, that's a good idea, it's a good idea. Maybe I can appropriate it". From the appropriation in the past, sometimes you discover a new, guess it'd be called a remix. You're deejaying the history to kind of find a new remix that fits. You think it might be new. Oftentimes it isn't. Those who have like sensors that say, "Oh my gosh, someone has done this, I'm going to stop", tend to just give up and go back to the non-curious world. But those who are curious have a brief moment where they falsely believe that it could be right. You know, like, "Whoa! This is probably knew", and they sort of flush out their discovery and they feel it's built upon history. So, it must be kind of new. Curiosity leading to the past, to new discoveries that get remixed and you run with it. 5. History: The further back you go in history, the better you're able to piece the puzzle of the present together. Sometimes it's discontinuous. Actually, oftentimes it is, but sometimes you are going to find the connection between multiple events and not just in a linear sense, in a series of things happen at the same time sense, do you gain anything from that? Again, understanding. Sometimes understanding leads to insight, sometimes it leads to discovery. I'm Sarah Coffin. I'm Curator and Head of the Product Design and Decorative Arts Department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. Do you think that designers need to know history to design well? I don't. But I do think that they would be better informed about not thinking that somebody hadn't done it before them. I think that it helps if they sometimes think about the ideas that people have covered before you get the idea. For instance, of ergonomics. Well, the word dates back in the 18th century. But I can assure you that the man who made the basic English or French, Silver Fork, thought about exactly where you put your thumb, exactly where the balance was so that it wouldn't fall off the plate and everything else, and that is probably the most comfortable piece of flattery to hold. What we can see is that if designers learn from the mistakes of the past, like not thinking about balance and afford that maybe it'd fall off the plate or a chair that has legs that won't support you because they're too bold and old for whatever else, you don't have to start from scratch. History is something you don't want to deal with often as a curator because you like to just go and make. It's like, was it, "fire, ready, aim", is the motto of someone who's a curator. Just go after it. Be stupid. Go make, go make. If everyone did that and was successful, then I will be pretty crazy. In reality, people who are truly successfully creative, they've got that attitude but they apply it towards the past. They start looking and hunting and understanding. Knowing that, they don't just start one day doing that. In their entire life, they're being curious and picking up things. They're picking up like kleptomaniacs of the past or the present. They pick up things, they try to remember, they hold things around them. I discover that many things that I would make, I would look to history to understand better. At the same time, I would look to my own hands to know what they knew. Because oftentimes what they know is all that I know since I've been alive. They don't go that far back in the past, but as you get older you have more patterns, and then draw from this past over here of how it's done and they kept iterating, weaving together until something kind of okay emerged. That's how things work when you interact with the past. History apprehends and what's inside there. Can you introduce yourself? I'm Steve Beal, President of California College of the Arts. How long has it been around? California College of the Arts is 108 years old, and I've been at CCA for 16 years. Ten as the provost and now six in my role as president. Good years. Let's walk into it. I've seen that great art schools also need for the liberal arts. Have you seen that here too? Absolutely. I think the combination of theory and practice, and by theory it's not just the theoretical but the context that includes history and social and critical understanding, is enormously important for a maker. It really goes back to the core of CCA's history and founding which came out of the Arts and Crafts movement believing that the best education for young artists was not to isolate them from society but rather to connect them to social political and economic life, and therefore assure that the arts were influenced by the context of history and society and culture. Most people are afraid of the past because the past dictates so much of what we did right and what we did wrong. Therefore if we did something wrong in the past you'll often hear someone say what we did in the past so don't do it now. History becomes a reason to stop someone from doing something. History is rarely used as a way to enable someone to do something and so as use as a look. That happened back then, it's not going to work now. Some people can go in the past and use it as inspiration for the future. I'm Ben Calvin. I'm the founder of Quirky. We build three brand new consumer products every single week and the ideas for those products came from people all around the world that we've never met. We've done things like commercialize the first squiggly powered ship called Pivot Power, the world's smartest air conditioner with our friends the GE, and all sorts of everyday solutions to common problems as influenced by people around the world. The East Coast at least this region of the country is about making, manufacturing. Can you talk about your history with manufacturing. Yeah, sure. I Grew up in New York and my mom had a factory in Queens and I would try to skip school as much as I could to go and see things pop out of injection molding machines and things sort of get assembled on production lines and that was always sort of in my blood. Seeing how things get made or got made. I think as more and more production goes offshore, fewer and fewer people are getting exposed to what it actually looks like to make things, therefore they're less confident or comfortable pursuing the invention or the making of things. I think of you as someone who understood that culture of making growing because like I grew up in a factory as well. When he grew up running making things, you realize how hard it is. It doesn't make a lot of money actually, but you do it because you do it well. So now fast forward to an adult CEO of a major company, the company about making. How does that history connect you to the present? I think you know some of my earliest memories are people walking into my mom's office upstairs on top of the factory with parts that were still warm and deadlines that were about to be missed and showing my mom parts and there was always a problem. I never remember going into my mom's office, despite how big her company wound up becoming, and things being smooth. There was always a problem being contended with and I think that as I think about where we are today at Quirky and where we're headed, embracing the fact that you're always going to be faced with these challenges when you make things in volume or even when you make things sort of on a one off basis there's always struggles. The struggles are what makes the process amazing and what makes a good product at the end of the day. You're never expecting that things are going to be smooth. Always expecting that things are going to be incredibly difficult. That's the culture of the business we've built here at Quirky and that's the culture of making is always fighting the fights that need to be fought in order to have success. At the Media Lab, it wasn't until maybe five years into being there where I realized that the haste for the Media Lab was fascinating. It was founded by two gentleman. One was the President of MIT who served under JFK and LBJ as Science Adviser, working in partnership with a younger Professor Nicholas Negroponte. Together they created this kind of amazing startup inside MIT. Then things made sense to me. So this is why it's like this? The Media Lab. Same with Kristie, but it took it longer because it wasn't just a few decades. It was over a century. I knew that the history was important. I learned it from several leaders that I consulted with along my career arc. He told me how important it was to refer to the past because the present comes from the past. The older the institution, the more the past is the asset. If you have a long culture in an institution, you want to draw upon the bank, the bank in this case is metaphorical for its past. If you can't draw upon it, you're drawing in the present. The present is not that much. The past is where it's at. So you talk to people and you start going backwards and the nice thing about old institutions has got its own archive. You can study what happened in the past, literally. Over time, you learn the places culture. Note that it wasn't until my third year that I thought I understood enough about the culture. It's important to note the older it is of course the longer it takes. When you think about the bridge between curiosity and discovery is if you're just curious and discovering things, you have no basis to claim it a discovery. There's no flag that says hey look this is new because in reality it may have been done in the past. So history is that well you have to draw upon in order to truly claim something as new. The discovery. 6. Discovery: Discovery is that moment where you see different pieces come together that reveal something new. It's that classical definition of what creativity is. It's like mixing odd-shaped things and combing it so that it actually makes great sense. A discovery, you can describe as that kind of eureka moment where you said, "Look at that," look-what-I-found kind of thing. It's an ego rush, because you're like, "Wow. I did something new. Pretty awesome." At the same time, you have to be a little skeptical about it, that it's going to make the history thing. Maybe, I might be wrong, maybe this is not a new land. You have to be open, otherwise you get stuck, myopic, in this idea that you've discovered something totally new that no one's ever found before. You can get stuck in that. Are we good? Okay. How are you, Braden? Fine. I'm Braden Kowitz, Design Partner at Google Ventures. I'm Jake Knapp, also Design Partner at Google Ventures. We're here in the Design Studio in San Francisco. What is a Design Sprint? I see it everywhere. Everything I read about, Google Ventures, Design Step, Design Sprint. When I first read about it, I was terrified because it felt like an algorithm, but you guys are, like, Google, so it seemed right. So what is the Sprint? Can I get like a tutorial of that? Sure. Basically it's a way to solve problems with the team together. It may seem very strict, but actually, there's lots of room to play throughout the process. It's basically a little bit about how to gather the information as a group, how to come up with lots of ways you could go and narrow it down to the few challenges that you care about as a group, and then, again, go wide in all sorts of ways you could solve those challenges, narrow it down to a couple that you think will work, and then rapidly prototype and test them with users. That's a pretty common framework that all designers use. We just have a lot of techniques that work well with groups of about 10 people, they work well in technology, and they work really well at startups. Basically, we want to compress what you might do over the course of three to six months down into a week. Do a design process that doesn't end with a pile of sticky notes, but ends with something that's real, something that's been tested. The teams feel like they have clarity about what to do next. Solution will jump in your head and you try and use that solution right away, I've seen this somewhere else, let's just use it. But a lot of our techniques are designed to get those out of the way really fast, generate a nice scoped sandbox with an empty mind, and then, get to generating new ideas. Then, we step back and we evaluate those obvious ideas that have been knocking around your head for a while with all the new ideas that you created both as a group, with our own instincts, and then in front of customers, and narrow it down and pick the right things. The more sprints that we do, the more I find that I have a hard time predicting when I'll be wrong about the design. So, rather than knowing that this design always works in these situations, it's more a matter of like every situation's really different. Customer and different people react differently in different contexts. People change over time too. There were techniques where I thought, just one really concrete, putting a button in the operating corner. We had tried that a couple times into our pods at Google. We did eye-tracking, no one saw it. So, when I came up in Design, I said there's no way we should do this. It seems I know this answer. We tested it anyway. We found some why-what ways to do it, and it turned out that that idea was the best one of the group. Now, why? I don't know. It could have been in the context, it could have been that people now look for buttons in the upper right where they didn't six years ago. But it has kept me very humble that whatever idea I have and I'm feeling very passionate about, it may be completely wrong. The only way we're really going to find that is to put in front of customers. Yeah. I think I've gotten more confident in our ability to use Design to learn, but less confident that I know the right design ahead of time. So, we're more likely now to say, "I don't know." Yeah, maybe we're supposed to be the experts. We don't know, but we can tell you that we should test both ways. We should try out three prototypes. We should pit it against each other and assume we can't get it right. I think I keep myself driven around the joy of discovery by just being very hopeful. Now, why am I hopeful? People who are creative tend to be somewhat depressed because they know about the past and it's too awesome. You're like,"Whoa. I can't do anything." But sometimes, you break out of that gravitational field. For a brief moment, you're like, "Yeah, I can see it. I'm hopeful, I'm hopeful, I'm hopeful, I'm hopeful." More times than you might believe, you've gotten somewhere with that hope. So, that drug is set into play one time or another. So, you believe it. I think that will be human nature, to want to go after that little bit of hope, which can sometimes lead to discovery. Hi. I'm Rob Forbes, the Founder and President of PUBLIC Bikes, also known as the Founder of Design Within Reach. I have a hard time describing what I do. I'm probably best known as a Design Advocate. Discovery needs an audience. What do you mean? It needs an audience to get you going. Right. If it's a large-scale personal endeavor, you need the audience, you need the people to say, "Am I doing okay?" Yeah. I think absolutely. Yeah. When I was figuring out DWR in the head, there's these wonderful boards that Pentagram had put together, they were really quite elegant. This is like say '98 stuff. I was over in Italy shopping these things around, getting into some really good Italian firms. They just left it they and went, "This isn't going to work in America. You guys are known for being the bottom feeders. They don't really pay for goods, they don't really get design. We're Italians, we understand this stuff." But they like the vision that we had created. We formed really good alliances with people like that, which is both very meaningful personally and financially. We had this great thing in the second year of the business where we've created a whole division of Spanish Design Within Reach and introduced a Spanish design style to the US. At that time, very few people would be able to identify what Spanish design was. The Spanish setting didn't have a place. We put together about 10 different manufacturers and actually launched Spanish Design Within Reach right here, in San Francisco, in conjunction with CCA. It led to a really significant part of the DWR business. Again, building those personal relationships with those people, many of whom are still friends and all that, was very, very meaningful and enriching. It may seem trite, but that sense that we live and work in very different cultures, but some of the ethics, and interests, and inspirations to the design community are very international. When you share those kinds of values with people whose language you don't speak that well, it's pretty enriching. It's very encouraging and an awful lot of fun. Very good. Thank you. Perfect. Thank you, Rob. I spend a long time wondering that at campus of RISD, we were hanging all the time with the students and just going to look at everything I could. Literally, like, looking every rock I lost. There was this place called and the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, which was like a science lab, a natural history museum on campus. I didn't get it. It wasn't an art school or art piece of equipment, it was a museum. You can check out a turkey. There's all these stuffed animals that are basically available for anyone to check out and bring back to their dorm room. I began thinking that this is neat. It's like science for artists. It's Victorian science. It's observational science. This was how science used to be. Every scientists used to learn science this way. When did science become less observational? Maybe science needs this component, that's still living inside an art school. Maybe STEM isn't enough. Maybe art added to STEM. Turning STEM into STEAM was necessary. STEM to STEAM is asking the question, is America better off with just STEM Education-focus? Meaning, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. If it was the primary ingredients to a young person's mind, would America be better off. I think the answer is that America could do more science and technology, but it may lose its artistic core. So, the STEAM movement arose as an attempt to bring art back to the center of education. Could this little center inside RISD become a reignited beacon for art and science? I became hopeful. In order to discover something or anything, you have to be curious enough to look around, either in the present or in the past, and keep looking until you find or discover something. You don't just discover something by sitting in your chair and like, "Oh, I discovered something." It's an active process. An active process of looking backwards or looking around, looking at your context, which is basically history. You are curious you have to look at it. 7. Leadership: I think leadership is very similar to making, in that you're making a culture, you're renewing a culture, you're creating something, but you're not making it with your hands. You're making it with who you are. So, it's a very creative activity, but it's also a very different than a normal creative activity. So, one of my work is going to figure out how do you bridge the creativity of this to the creativity of leadership. Are you ready? Yes. I've got grapes in my mouth. Okay. Go for your grapes. Okay. Hey, my name is Joe Gebbia. I'm one of the Co-founders of Airbnb. I'm a Industrial Designer and Graphic Designer, and here we are at Fuseproject for, a talk with John Maeda. Leadership. What does that word mean to you? What does leadership mean to me? Well, leadership, to me, actually means getting out of the way. I think great leaders empower those around them. I saw you do that at RISD, I've seen you do that at Fuseproject, I have seen other mentors and luminaries, they have carried through their idea of like really just create the environment for people to do their best work. To me that's what leadership is. It's setting the stage for performers to get a great performance. What does that have to do with design? What does it have to do with design? Also like, well, leadership and design they are so different. Are they? Thank you. That's the answer. Cut. Yes. So I'm Daniel Kim. I'm the Founder, CEO, and CTO of Lit Motors, and we're start-up vehicle company based in San Francisco. I think an artist, their integrity is about me, and when you're an entrepreneur or a leader like you, the integrity isn't about you. No, I think a really good entrepreneurs have very little me in them to be honest because they have to think about the entire company, everyone else. There's very little time for yourself. So, it's interesting, the new museum when that came out, learning about how the curator, the art statement, was the fact that he went to the Bank of America and got all his money, and then, curated all these artists in these specific genres of art. It wasn't about the art statement, it wasn't about the artists, it's about the curation of all these art genres. Our statement was actually the guy who started the new museum who's leading the project. He's like, "Oh, that's a new artist statement for the 21st century." Which goes into collaboration and things like Airbnb and get around. I think that's an interesting way how art is moving away from the me, me, me, going into, okay, there are the people. It's kind of a we. Then seeing business going from that entity where we don't want to leverage these excess capacities right in the world, and we want to make it a collaborative thing. Why would anyone share and try to make money off of sharing something? It's moving towards something in that realm. So, it never makes sense directly but, it's a movement there are like these changes and movements towards, something that's more we. I think when you're making something, you're making something new or you're taking something and you're changing it. Leadership is something quite similar and that you may be making a new thing, making a new team, making an institution, or you're taking an existing thing and trying to improve it, but again, not with your hands, with you. So, leadership is not the process of designing outside, it's designing inside, designing yourself. When you think of creative people who are discovering that they have to lead. I'm a maker, I'm not a leader. What do you say to them? It's a great question, first of all and I think and believe that we're educating students at CCA to be leaders. I think one of the deficiencies that education in the arts has had is educating young creative people to be in a service role rather than a leadership role. I think we're seeing that in dramatic ways in the Bay Area. The desire for companies and the entrepreneurial business community that surrounds CCA to now all of a sudden really value the kind of learning, the kind of teaching and learning, that happens in a place like CCA, and seeing that in those students who have that creatively developed sense, that they can really bring that leadership role rather than in a service role. So, the companies that are evolving, is a huge part of the change that we're seeing in art education. So, I hope that we're educating young people to be leaders. That might be within the particular discipline that they do as a industrial designer, but also might be in a leadership role involving company or in a civic manner within the communities that they live, to be able to apply their creative interests in leadership ways and helping to reshape the society we live in. I'm Jake Barton, I'm principal and founder of Local Projects. We're a experience design firm here in New York City. There became an inflection point when we were at like 25 people, somewhere about half our size. It is very clear I wasn't generating everything and I couldn't generate everything. So, we needed to actively, not just sort of, have people come up with ideas but actively encourage other people in the studio to come with ideas. We hired stronger staff, we hired some younger people who had like really amazing ideas. In other hand, it's very easy for that to turn into anarchy, chaos. But it was clear that we needed to have a capacity for everybody's ideas, to have a voice, and to be considered, and to float their way to the top up to the clients. Well, I love that construct, because you're basically saying I'm boss, but you might be right. Yeah. Listen to me, at the beginning, and go ahead and diverge and show me that I'm wrong. Totally, and I actively want people to prove me wrong. I'm like this is great. I want you to embarrass me. I want you to put up an idea that's so good I'll be flushed in the face and be like I can't believe I didn't think about that. As a maker, whether you're an architect, a designer, you, your job is to hold the line, to say no, to have creative vision, to stay true to it, to convince other people about it, whether that's a client or a fabricator or an eventual customer, that this is the best way to go. But as a leader it's the opposite, your job, I mean, it seems silly but your job has to be wrong. Your job is to have an idea, and have other people who have better ideas than you, prove that you're wrong, and create a structure, where that can flourish. That's a really big challenge, because it's actually much easier, like just getting to a level where you can make things like that's hard. But it's much, much harder, to invest in people and to try and draw ideas out of them and to get a team on board and to figure out, with accuracy and humility, what you're actually not good at, or what other people could be better at, or how to essentially, invest and inspire other people to make amazing things that you wouldn't necessarily think of. That's a much, much, much bigger challenge for sure. I think leaders in the past lived in a more linear world, things were predictable. This was before technology began to wave, to take over the entire world. In a world where nothing changes, leaders don't have to be too creative. We know what to do. There's a manual, follow the manual, this how you get through things. In times when things are changing all the time, like in this current era of information technology, a leader has to be creative and adaptive. Has to be willing to know that the solution they had in their pocket they always worked. It's not to work all that time. So, they have to be creative. They'll have to be curious. Are there better ways, to do this? Well, my passage on a leadership, has to do with most people who are creative who have gotten older, because when you're a creative person, you make things, you love to make things. The last thing you want to do is let other people make those things for you. You try so hard not to make that happen. But you can't help avoid it if you want to achieve scale. I was always happy as a professor at MIT because I could make things, and my students will make things too, I make this at my side, it was great. But being president of institution forced me to somehow move from the frame of a maker, to a leader, and a leader at scale. So, one of my projects, after my first couple of years at RISD was writing a book called Redesigning Leadership, which wasn't a book on how to lead well, but it was a recount of how it means to lead. You can be given a title, as the president or whatever and lead. You're leading, but the only time a leader is actually needed is in times of crisis. Something has happened. People look into you to make their call. Marcia Ganz often talks about how, in times where there is no change no one needs a leader. But in times when a calamity occurs, everyone is looking at that leader. That situation creates a leader or breaks the person, so they can't lead. 8. Final Thoughts: One thing I found important, is for more people to see the fact that they aren't limited to who they are or at least at the present tense. We can be a designer and you can learn technology on how to code. You can be a technologist and you can learn how to design. You can be both a designer and technologist, and you could learn how to lead. You can be many things in your career arc. I think everyone who we've interviewed in this series, has shown the fact that there's no one single pattern. If anything in each of them, I've seen capacity and curiosity in them to keep on evolving. I wish for the students to see this course or be a part of it, is to accept what I've learned to accept. I see so many college kid say, "I'm going to become a, or I'm going to become a, whatever do this, do that." But, what they don't realize, is what Reid Hoffman says in his book, The Start-up of Me, about how in the old days, you'd have an idea of who you want to become, you'd study and become it. In this current time, you can think of who you want to become and you can study to become that person. But, by the time you've done that, the position has gone away. It's a whole new world. So, I hope anyone who is a part of this accepts that fact. Welcome see, is curious about what their capacity to build these arc and to evolve a change, to design themselves.