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May 4, 2020
185: Facilitating workshops with Jonathan Courtney (AJ&Smart)

In this episode of Design Life we are joined by a special guest, Jonathan Courtney, CEO of Innovation and Design company AJ&Smart. Jonathan has worked with companies like Lego, Twitter and even the UN, running sprints to make design decision making easier. Following on from our recent topic of design decision making, we ask Jonathan to tell us more about how we can get out of busy work and instead, spend time creating through easier, faster and more collaborative design decision making.

key takeaways

Tired of meetings and projects that went around in circles and inspired by the book Sprint, AJ& Smart trialled their first Design Sprint with Lufthansa. Within a week everyone was aligned and asking for more. Since then they have become the go-to company for innovative design sprints which encourage whole team collaboration and speed up the decision making process.

Getting everyone on the same page can be met with some reluctance. If a company has already spent time using design thinking to come up with solutions, they may hesitate to spend any more time on it. You only think about something once right? So AJ&Smart came up with the Lightening Decision Jam, taking all the good feelings of a design sprint and crushing it into the structure of a one hour meeting.

A design sprint is a better use of time than micromanaging every decision. Front-load the decision making. Decision makers feel they’re listened to and less thinking is required from everyone else.

If you want to encourage your team to spend time on a design sprint, assume they don’t want to do it. Think about it from their perspective, they don’t want to implement a process they think might waste money or slow things down, they want to look good. A design sprint is not a process change. It is a plug in and play tool, which you can only use when you have a problem thats big enough.

As a workshopper your job is to make the experience super enjoyable for everyone else. One of the things that make meetings so tiring is the dynamics running in the background. When someone is facilitating the meeting well everyone can just put their brain power into the project at hand, which is more interesting and enjoyable anyway.

show timestamps

01.40 – How sprints for design decision making came about
11.52 – Lightening Decision Jams
16.30 – The aftermath
20.25 – Become the go-to person for sprints
25.16 – Running design sprints at a smaller company
30.52 – Securing commitment from your team
42.14 – Why every team needs design sprints

show links