I am a creative and strategic leader who builds multi-disciplinary teams to create productive and results-driven work. With a focus on outcomes, my teams are focused, clear, and innovative.
Widely known for creating design that is theatrical, crystal clear, and arresting, I inspire others in my roles as teacher, mentor, thought leader, and expert craftsman. With a  passion for Design Thinking and radical leadership style, I am the Design Principal for IBM's Talent Management Solutions. I drive design and design thinking adoption in the Growth Products for Talent Management Solutions including Watson Candidate Assistant, BrassRing, Watson Career Coach, IBM Watson Recruitment, and more. I push the various design teams to excel in delivering each of the nine experiences, regardless of organization structure. I direct team leads to build relationships with Offering Management, Development, Marketing, Sales, Support and Executives to learn and influence their practices. I drive whole product teams to leverage design research, usage data and the work of other digital product teams to help ensure that each part of the end user journey feels like a singular works-like-IBM experience.
At IBM, I was part of the early waves of the implementation of Design Thinking to the enterprise level. With each role, I have created systems and templates for continued engagement. For experiencedesign, I led the charge of design guides and standards across three portfolios. For design thinking, I built engagement models for workshops and design sessions and mentored and taught facilitators who took those systems and continued to implement.
Before I was a designer, I was a professional pianist and musical director for the theatre. I also taught. Ive been teaching, in some form, for the past 19 years. It started with a voice class for 5-year-olds and, for several years, I taught musical theatre performance, private voice, and private piano. I co-founded the Texas Arts Project, a pre-professional performing arts summer program now in its 12th year. During graduate school, I began teaching at Curry College and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. I understand what it means to run a classroom and how to adjust that classroom based on the needs of the students.
Bringing Design Thinking to a company isnt just a story of workshops and curriculum. Its about changing the way that people work. Its about questioning long-held assumptions about the right way to work. Ive heard every argument in the book, by now, against Design Thinking. I know how stubborn an organization can be and I am comfortable dealing with skeptical colleagues.
I firmly believe that we learn by doing. Being an educator at IBM has meant facilitating workshops and guiding novice and seasoned participants through introductory materials and a set of exercises. We dont always have the ability to work together, in person, but I have found success in working remotely with teams using various online tools.
At IBM, I have managed 30+ designers and have seen at least 6 of them promoted to their own leadership and management positions. I have participated in 17 product releases. I have interviewed over 30 candidates for careers at IBM Design. I have facilitated 15 design thinking workshops, internal and external, impacting the design processes of at least 200 people and 50 products.
Non-IBM-Designers have been clamoring for leadership for many years. From IM Cloud Services to Watson, I have observed legacy designers excitement at the energy that IBM Design has brought to their work. When I took over Big Insights, I was lucky to work with several designers at the Silicon Valley Lab who were desperate for design leadership after being relegated to simple interface production tasks and user interface validation sessions. On Watson, one designer had never been engaged in a true critique. I pushed her to iteratestop talking about ideas and put them down on screen or paper. After our first session, she said, John, thank you. Ive been wanting this kind of feedback forever!
One thing I bring to any team or workshop is the same level of empathy that we preach. I understand what it means to be new at something. I have an optimistic approach and firmly believe that each and every person is capable of achieving more than they know.
I am a leader and manager of people—not job descriptions. Im also known for presentationsboth large scale and small. From enormous Las Vegas conferences to intimate 2-person conversations, Im a storytelling and conversation artist interested in developing meaningful, impactful, and actionable insight.
As strange as it may sound, my first college acting class has had more of an impact on my design career than any other. Stepping in anothers shoes is at the heart of acting and the ability to draw of that level of empathy has been key to my career. The lessons I learned in teaching those skills of character development and improvisation have been well applied as I lead my design teams, teach design classes, and facilitate Design Thinking Workshops.
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