Hi, I’m Gavin.
I'm a design leader and product strategist working in growth and innovation to help improve human behavior for clients including Citi, IBM, MetLife, and Samsung. I'm currently leading experience design at co: collective with a focus on service design through the innovation and strategy lens. I also teach design at Pratt Institute to hungry students and produce Design Podcast on iTunes.
Recently, I've designed and facilitated design thinking workshops globally with MetLife and lead a design team to create prototypes for regional piloting, helped facilitate innovation workshops and develop the strategy and iconic innovations for IBM Blockchain's SaaS offering, and redesigned ACLU's celebrated onboarding process of the future.
Last year, with the dedicated IBM team, I completed a redesign of the pattern design system for IBM Cloud and all digital Cloud properties. Prior to that, I was the designer on the Samsung shopping cart experience with Barbarian Group. I lead the redesign of American Express Music, a live digital music platform for American Express. I spent two years working as the Design Lead for Praedicat, a modeling and risk management startup in Los Angeles. One of my more celebrated projects is Samsung's CenterStage which I worked as the user interface and infographic designer. This project won design awards at The Cannes Lions, The One Club, and others.
My multi-disciplinary design process is an end-to-end experience approach from research to prototype. It's an iterative approach to understand, ideate, and implement solutions. The goal is to get to a smarter solution faster using collaborative problem solving. Good design is good business. Companies are guided by their ability to create a differentiated experience for customers that keep them coming back again and again. Quality research is the foundation of successful design solutions. Asking questions and prioritizing findings using a collaborative framework leads to market-changing ideas. I've used an Agile framework with startups and software companies, a Storymapping process for innovation workshops, and a Storydoing approach where you're purpose and footprint in the world align through a Quest. Ultimately, the process you use comes down to a design criteria and shared vocabulary.
One of the foundations of my process is to listen and observe. You can't solve a problem you don't understand. By asking questions you gain insight and clarity. You begin to uncover actionable needs. This is a time to analyze themes, list competitors, and create mind maps. This is followed by ethnography, field research and meeting with stakeholders to develop personas and start to shape insights into user journeys.
The next step is exchanging ideas. The goal is to come up with as many as possible. Then you prioritize them using a prioritization grid. This is where a diverse set of team members can speak to value and feasibility. Designers and marketing managers might have a better sense of value, while engineers and developers might have a better sense of feasibility. When there is agreement on design criteria, the best ideas speak for themselves. Next, I like to ask the question "what's the smallest thing we can make to test our assumptions?". Once you create constraints around solutions, you can wireframe the intended user stories and start to build. This is where we begin to converge and the attention to detail is critical along with an appreciation for the intersection of aesthetic and experience. We then build something quick and functional emphasizing nimble design over heavy design.
Starting with assumptions from Step 1, we gather data by asking users about the experience and validate this based on improved behavior. If a design system is in place this a great time to create a testing plan and push code. Gaining early customer validation is weighed over releasing products with unidentified value. For example: driving consideration, building awareness, creating urgency, and increasing demand. Frequent demos and releases allow for more user access. More user access means more research and business validation.
Values and team building
While technology is the way of the future, impacting lives starts with the person in front of you. I believe in a hyperlocal approach to living where the people you interact with are those you care about most. My values begin with family and my local community. I believe each person has infinite worth. It is my view that we are all created equal, but we don't all have equal choices. Food is the ultimate equalizer and all peace is founded upon sharing your table with your neighbor.
Team building starts with having shared values and an awareness of humility. I've lead small teams of 3-5 and also teams of 12-15 people. Leadership is a responsibility to support but also challenge. I believe in the principle of transparency. This furthers continuous learning and engagement and helps bring people along on the strategic decision-making journey so you end up at a powerful solution together. Leadership is an education and the best leaders think of themselves as the students not the teachers. Cross-functional teams benefit from quickly evolving solutions and deliberate co-laboring. Empowering a team with ethnography research and mapping critical life moments and assumptions helps to build a human-centered problem-solving foundation. This inspires teams to embrace experimentation rather than one-size-fits-all solutions. Using a design thinking framework helps teams with engineers, product managers, strategists, and designers work together to optimize ideas. The result is intentional growth meant to encourage responsiveness and a culture of learning.
Good design makes a product understandable. It also requires an awareness of the possible negative consequences of what I do and prioritizing human well-being over artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. I believe in being honest. The compounding effect of rapid optimization and deployment puts humanity and authenticity at risk. I design with ethical principles in mind. This begins with integrity in the pursuit of true functionalism, demonstrating products that honor user values and communicate a message and its truthfulness.