Design has become a critical component for business and technology in the modern era. On this episode, John Maeda presents findings from his DesignInTech 2016 report.

John is an American executive spearheading a new convergence across the design and technology industries. He currently advises dozens of technology startups as a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a world-leading venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. In addition, Maeda serves on the Board of Sonos and Wieden+Kennedy, and on the Technical Advisory Board for Google’s ATAP.

Maeda draws on his diverse background as an MIT-trained engineer, award-winning designer, and organization executive to help leaders, inventors and designers push the boundaries of innovation in their fields. An internationally recognized speaker and author, Maeda’s books include The Laws of Simplicity, Creative Code, and Redesigning Leadership. He has appeared as a speaker all over the world, from Davos to Beijing to São Paulo to New York, and his talks for TED.com have received cumulative views of over 2 million to date.

At the start of 2015, Fast Company named KPCB one of the ten most innovative companies in design–a position fortified by Maeda’s subsequent launching of the “#DesignInTech Report” which covers venture capital funding and M&A activity for design in the technology industry (available free at http://kpcb.com/design).

Download Podcast

Design in Tech with John Maeda, Design Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Michael Krigsman:

(00:53)Welcome to episode number 164 of CXOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman and this is going to be such an interesting show today. I’m talking with John Maeda, who is a design legend, I don’t want to embarrass him by saying that he’s a design legend, and his formal title is design partner at the venerable venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and we’re going to be talking about design. And he just released a report called Design in Tech 2016, John Maeda how are you?

John Maeda:

(01:42) Very good glad to be here Michael.

Michael Krigsman:

(01:45) John thank you so much for taking the time today. Just to start, very briefly tell us about your background just to set some context.

John Maeda:

(01:55) Well I was at MIT for 12 years as a professor at the MIT media laboratory and was the president the school for design for about six years and I’ve been at Silicon Valley for the two and a half years and I’ve been learning lots of stuff.

Michael Krigsman:

(02:11) So you have a very broad background very steeped in both traditional design as well as academia, as well as technology. Maybe summaries for us your perspective on design and what led you to create the design in tech report, and maybe tell us about that report as well.

John Maeda:

(02:37)Well I have lived deep in the MIT computer science world, that’s where my training began. I loved computers as a kid. I was a typical nerd. Had a computer since I was a kid in the 70s. Went to art school, discovered art school and the happiness of art school which at the time was very non-computery.

(03:01) Began working with a lot of businesses, a lot of corporations, consulting for them while I was a president at MIT and running my entire art college I began to see how art and design have existed and are trying to move forward.

(03:16) In the venture capital industry I’ve been able to see how design has a material advantage in a startups evolution. So we’re then asking, how did we help everyone see the material value that design is having in the financial space, the investment space, and been asking how do do that. And like Mary Meeker, who’s at Kleiner Perkins, publishes a wonderful report every year and I thought maybe I can borrow that playbook and make a report and talk about design and tech.

Michael Krigsman:

(03:50) So Mary Meeker’s report of course is the definitive on some ways report on internet trends. It’s an incredible thing that she does every year. So your point of view then is how design makes and can create a financial material advantage in terms of finances economically.

John Maeda:

(04:18) Well you know in the most crass terms, people think that creativity ypically has no value. I remember when I was a kid my dad heard I was good at math and art and told a friend I was good at math and art was never important. So I’ve been always been looking for how do you see the value of the creative side.

(04:39) And so by looking at all of the startups that have been doing well on the fund-raise side, these startups that are being acquired by their companies sometimes are doing, looking at the companies that are like Deloitte, McKinsey acquiring design companies for real prices. It shows that design creativity has material value to business, that’s what excites me.

Michael Krigsman:

(05:06) So your interest is in the applied aspect of design and the role of design in the economic system and technology in particular.

John Maeda:

(05:18) I like how you frame that because design is always applied, it’s always in service of industry. However, there are branches of design that focus on social good, which are the non-profit space. So there’s non-profit design, but there’s also for profit design, and I’m going to put a spotlight on profit design because by understanding it you can see that I’m a CEO, you mean if I get close to design my company could do better, and it’ll cost X I’ll have to invest in that capability; I want that attitude to become more common but it turns out it already is. The report proves that.

Michael Krigsman:

(05:58) So what are some of the dimensions in which art can make a tangible contribution to the economic value of a business.

John Maeda:

(06:09) Simple example, if you look people can just say the word Apple in their sleep, but other companies like Tesla, companies like Nest and the report recently has revealed that even Google is a design company because it’s products feel a lot better that 10 years ago.

Michael Krigsman:

(06:30) One of the things you talk about in the report that I think is so fascinating is you describe that historically we interacted with software, maybe a few times and at a few points throughout the day. Today we interact with software on or mobile devices pretty much continuously throughout the day. And so as you call it in the report, the ‘ouch moments’ of interacting with software, the pain-points, historically it’s no longer acceptable today. Maybe elaborate on that because I thought it was such a great description of the paradigm shift that’s taken place.

John Maeda:

(07:10) Well one thing that I learned about being in the venture capital ecosystem is this phrasing of consumer versus enterprise. And when you think about it as seen as maybe 10 years ago there really was only enterprise computing, computing was to something that you do at work not something in your daily life.

(07:30) So consumer computing is brand new, and because consumer computing means that anyone who uses a computer, not just the Toni Stark MIT people, like Kim Kardashian has got her mobile open you know, and she wants to stay connected, she can’t write code. In the old days they had to write code to use computers. But now every person what’s to use the computer it has to be usable, but it also has to be pleasurable because we use it all the time. In the old days, we tolerate bad. New days no one will tolerate bad. That’s why designs important.

Michael Krigsman:

(08:10) So what does that do to the role of design, and what does that do to designers and what designers need to learn and understand.

John Maeda:

(08:22) Well that’s the thing I’ve been trying to crack a way at ever since the first report came out which I thought would get like 50,000 views, but now it’s close to a million views. So clearly people are interested in it. So in this report I know I have a chance to get people’s attention to understand one thing which was that the word designer means a lot of things. You can have someone who’s an interior designers, someone who’s a graphic designers. You have a designer thinker from Stanford, you can have a computational designer like at New Relic. So we have to be more clear in what we mean by designers having material impact in the technical system. It’s not all the designers out there. It’s just a few of them right now.

Michael Krigsman:

(09:08) And so what does this mean again for the role of designers. How about the training you’re an educator, so what about the training of the designers, and what about the relationship that companies and organization have to design all of this in a sense is undergoing a very massive change isn’t it?

John Maeda:

(09:33) Well it’s been going through a massive change for a long time. I remember when I was at MIT in research I remember in the year 2000 was the turning point because at MIT we had all the computers; no one else had computers. We had the best computers. People would come to the lab to use our computers.

(09:54) So around the year 2000 computers were fast enough that the freshmen were buying so they didn’t come in the lab anymore because they had better computers in the research labs. So I think computers have been outpacing what the education ecosystem can keep up with for well over a decade.

(10:13) So part of my reason for leaving academia to give up being an educator to live in this ecosystem has been to get closer to the world of business and how creativity becomes an advantage in this whole shebang.

Michael Krigsman:

(10:37) What was the evolution that brought you to the point of recognizing or placing the economic contribution of design so highly, prioritizing it so highly. Because when most people think about design they’re not thinking about the economic aspects.

John Maeda:

(10:57) Well it was roughly after 2000 where I began being (audio dropped 11:05 - 11:08), newspapers of financial terms, by being in research they wonderful to research, wonderful place. So I did my MBA as a hobby part time to learn how to read the Wall Street Journal. I began getting very curious about this is how the world works, I have to get more into it (audio dropped 11:28 – 11:30) able to at college in a large non-for-profit I got to see the world even differently. And so now at Silicon Valley seen these small companies grow to end-ups, end-ups are companies that have ended up successful. I have huge respect for what is happening by taking creativity and in capital for stirring its growth and this miracle happens; I love being close to it.

Michael Krigsman:

(12:07) In your report you talk about classical design, design thinking and then I forget exactly the phrase - the computational design. And so maybe can you break those down, what are those three things and why are they so relevant and so important in this discussion.

John Maeda:

(12:27) The reason why the financial part, the money part, what I call the De$ign design has caught my attention because most of what is done in the pure creative sphere is anticapitalistic. It’s supposed to have a higher purpose, and it’s a wonderful thing that exists, yet I see, I see the economy, I see industry craving for a different kind of designer that can propel industry forward. And I can see that I had to focus on the kind of designers that can make that impact the most.

(13:06) The classical designers are the designers trained in the old way. The way of the physical world, on print, all of these most beautiful thought design for centuries has lived in this space. This design is still can be immediately applied to making a user experience. It’s related, but there’s a distance. The people who have cross this divide, are people who have left school, worked in technology and are all generally self-taught. These are people that I’ve been able to meet, Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, you name it. They are all people who are self-taught, learned the way for computation coding, and also user research; working for millions of people. The create a different kind of design, that’s computational design.

(13:58) And then there is design thinking. Design thinking is being led by business schools, a Harvard business review, the whole business book sector. It’s the idea that your company doesn’t move fast enough, and if you can think more creatively, think like a designer your company can innovate better. So three kinds of design and design thinking, and computational design are going to have the biggest impact right now on the economic success of countries today.

Michael Krigsman:

(14:26) You’re defining design, you’re talking about design in a very different way than the narrow way that people think about it which is really graphics or paintings. So when you talk about design what actually is the scope of design that you are referring to? What is design in this context in your way of looking?

John Maeda:

(14:49) Well I’m glad I’m on CXOTalk because X is about experience and how do you create excellent experience you have to design it, and designers create experiences. They may create experiences on a 2-D plane. They may create it in a 3-D environment. They may create it inside AR or VR. They may create it as a drone flying around us and asking are how that feels, how it works. They make experience that’s what they do, but the experiences changed from designing glasses, to designing mobile experiences and that design gap is quite large. Because these design experiences have millions of users; this might have 1000 users. In this case the glasses can be finished; I get to finish this. People who make these apps never get to finish, so there’s fundamental differences between old design classical and the new design, computational.

Michael Krigsman:

(15:55) But when you talk about design thinking, you’re talking about designing companies. So again I come back to the same question of the common thread of design going across classical design thinking and computational design because the output, the result of these three things are completely different one to the next.

John Maeda:

(16:21) Well actually I’m glad you’re using the terminology with me because I’m still a baby at it. It was a couple of days before the design and tech report I had the a-ha like ‘there’s three kind of design, okay’, so that’s the physical design, the computational design and the design thinking design is all about organization agility; rediscovering innovation over execution. So you ask what what is this ability the cost them all. It cost them all that all three types of design have sketching involved in it. Sketching means testing, iterating, figuring out the idea in different medium. For instance in the case of I-Glasses people will design different versions on paper and draw it, they won’t make the final thing until they figure it out in the case of application, the right code. They run a few test with users; they’re just sort of figuring it out they don’t know it. In the case of design thinking they’ll take Post-it notes and use a whiteboard and think about ideas and move them around as if they’re sketching the organization, the people roles. So it’s all about the ability to sketch. Not just to draw mind you, the ability to ideate very quickly.

Michael Krigsman:

(17:42) So again I keep coming back to this point in order to more fully understand this perspective that when you are talking about design thinking which is about organizational agility and innovation. And you’re talking about sketching it out, but still, it’s so far distant from classical design which is what we layman, people like myself tend to think of when we think about design.

John Maeda:

(18:18) And for that reason I’m glad you brought that up. For that reason Paolo Antonelli, the senior curator at MoMA recently said the people who use post-it notes really want designers, which wasn’t very popular but I want to note that people who do design thinking may not be classical designers, there may not be computational designers, but they’re a kind of designer that can think in the medium of organizations and ideas and of people.

(18:51) And to me, someone who practices both the classical and the computational I have to say I totally get it, it’s a kind of design. But it’s not going to get you in the collection of MoMA, it’s not going to let you make a new Facebook per se. But it’s going to help your team, your units, the whole company get a little more malleable by virtue of sketching ideas, testing them and working them out together through non-rigid medium. In this case, post-it notes and white boards, clips of paper that lets them become fluid, fluid in designers think before they execute.

Michael Krigsman:

(19:35) So John, you’re stretching my mind here, so is design then less a function of the output for the medium and rather a function of a kind of active ideation that’s taking place.

John Maeda:

(19:59) I wouldn’t know that if you said you said that and if one of my dear friends, Reece Kinelski a professor of Architecture were to hear you say sat, she’d be in literal like tears, like cheering for you because the whole idea behind design at the most basic level is process. It’s a process about approaching a problem. It’s medium agnostic at its highest level. So you Michael have described design at the highest level, this is good. A great experience is made by having the plastic processes, plastic meaning melting the processes to iterate, to test ideas before you actually execute. What is the famous phrase by Frank Lloyd Wright, It’s better to put a pencil to paper than have a sledgehammer at the construction site. 

Michael Krigsman:

(20:55) So you talk about the role of empathy and that permeates this so tell us about empathy and why does that matter in all of this.

John Maeda:

(21:16) Well this is a very revealing and embarrassing to how little I know on Sundays is when Joe Gebbia one of the cofounders of Airbnb also a graduate of the school that I led would come to campus and talk about how important it is to design as empathy especially in Silicon Valley, and I totally didn’t know what he was talking about. Because to me it’s kind of obvious that you have to care what the customer feels well, you know.

(21:47) But, if you think about the word empathy, and the world of pure software engineers, you have to remember that empathy isn’t part of the goal. The goal is to execute on durable code, test it with code. Code that won’t fall down, like a bridge maker, like a person who designed a bridge wants to make sure number one, it doesn’t fall down. So engineers in Silicon Valley due the important job of making that it will scale and won’t break. But while they are busy doing that they need to think about the person that’s going to cross the bridge. And designers in Silicon Valley, have been bringing in the viewpoint, which is obvious to everyone, but not the people with the hardware making the bridge stand that we have to ask the question, but how does a person crossing the bridge feel? Empathy. So empathy is what designers bring to the table all the time. They ask how does that make you feel, and how can I make you feel better? How do I improve the experience?

Michael Krigsman:

(22:51) So when we talk about empathy, really you’re describing the designers ability to put themselves in the place of the customer, and I say customer it could be the consumer of the design product, whatever that might be. Put yourself in their place and therefore create design plan from that perspective.

John Maeda:

(23:22) And you know, at the base level if you’re not even there, if you choose a Star Trek Vulcan you know, but if your Spock your kind of half human and you’re going to have feelings, and you can cover some of the experience.

(23:40) But for instance just now my I-message just went off, so someone just sent me an I-message, and I turned off my phone ringers, but the Mac itself just went off just now, because it was too hard to plan for empathy where by chance I would be talking live with Michael Krigsman on the thing. So empathy is important, but there are cases where we will miss. So you want to add that in. Designers don’t make perfect things because all situations are never purely general and don’t go awry in some cases.

Michael Krigsman:

(24:14) So to be a successful designer then one must bring together, basically what I understand what you’re saying, bring together the qualities of empathy with the ability to create a meaningful experience that’s appropriate for the context.

John Maeda:

(24:38) And again because when you make something you might just make it so it works, that’s what engineering teaches you. At MIT, I was an engineer and that’s what we do, we make the thing that works. Does it work? Yes, Yay!

(24:52) A designer asks on top of that, does it work, and do I know how to use it? Does it work and do I really want to take it home with me? Does it work, I want to use it every day because I just love using it so much. That’s more of a design, and I want to note even my design and tech report from last year, design is not that important. Engineering is important in relationship to design. And if there’s no business model, that can make that product affordable, it doesn’t matter either. Good engineering, good design. It’s a good business, good engineering and good design. These three are important together; they make great products, but not in isolation.

Michael Krigsman:

(25:39) Engineering, design, and the business model. It’s so interesting to hear you as a designer bringing these three things together. So you are placing design on equal footing with the business model and the engineering of the product itself.

John Maeda:

(26:04) It’s synergistic, it depends on the product to. Like if I’m making a Mars Rover, I think engineering matters a lot. You know if you put a person on there, an astronaut like Matt Damon make a little bit of design, make it comfortable. But if we’re trying to sell to NASA it’s got to be like you know keep it tolerable and cost less. So they’re three things that pull on each other, but at the base level the engineering has to work. Design can’t solve a bad engineering solution.

Michael Krigsman:

(26:42) And then what about the notion of culture and leadership and you know, we’re having the conversation about design but it’s so broad. So you talk about culture and you talk about leadership in relation to design as well.

John Maeda:

(27:01) Well it’s because the thing I’ve learned about startups is that you’re not designing a product. You are designing a team that can build a product. The thing I learned about large companies, you are designing products, you’re designing companies make great products in perpetuity.

(27:19) So in that case in the same way that engineering teams have scaled well in Silicon Valley, what I noticed is that design teams haven’t been scaled that well. And so a lot of conversations I’ve had for the past two and half years art with design leaders working in the high-tech industry who tell me the challenges they had as designers which I know very well from my transition of being a president at a college, I wrote a book called Redesigning Leadership, to explain my own frustration with how do you become a leader if you’re a maker, a hands-on maker. The hands-on makers have a hard time becoming leaders, and so in the report I feature what two characteristics of a company can design leaders make a difference in, and they are in culture and in systems.

Michael Krigsman:

(28:10) So what is the relationship of a design leader to creating that culture as you describe it.

John Maeda:

(28:17)  Well in the case of designing a culture

Michael Krigsman:

(29:23) So I’m assuming then that you also must advocate and help people reach the point where inside companies the teams, the engineering teams, the design teams, the business teams are functioning together as a more tightly integrated unit, because if these are the three key components then they need to be working together as you described.

John Maeda:

(29:48) And they also speak different languages but they all have one goal which is quality. So a lot of what I do because of the strange accident where I’m a trained MIT engineer I can talk engineering. I have the sort of art world, art school etc. design things I can talk to designers. To executives on boards and can talk to executives the same way, business people. So I try to be a translator, a bridge between the three groups so they can see each other’s quality.

Michael Krigsman:

(30:22) We have a question from Twitter from Colin Cruck who asks do you have any thoughts on IBM, and I’m reading from the Twitter stream any thought on how IBM has influencing or has influenced design.

John Maeda:

(30:38) Hey Colin I wonder if you’re at IBM. We did feature IBM in the report. I’ve gotten a chance to watch IBMs grand effort to really become a more designed orientated company, but also knowing that IBM was always designed orientated back in the 60s, IBM was the center of designers like Paul Rand, Charles Emms, and the same thing at GM also in the 50s had a great Eero Saarinen.

(31:14) So there was a time in the mid-1900s or post-mid, which design was a key aspect for large corporations. It kind of went away, so IBM has resurrected the DNA of IBM’s design. Think of it as Hans Solo picked out of cryo freeze, and they’ve brought back the old design sensibility and they’ve fused it with modern UX training, modern design thinking. To be able to grow, what the intent to do is grow 1000 new designers at IBM for the services industry, that’s quite ambitious.

Michael Krigsman:

(31:54) And you have lately a large number of service providers, McKenzie, other software companies you have like Infor developing buying or developing SAP. Buying or developing very strong design components inside their organizations. This is also relatively new over the last few years.

John Maeda:

(32:16) Well you know you can see that it’s going to happen for a long time. I think Monitor Group was the first to acquire design company, Monitor later acquired by Deloitte. Consulting companies to grow their portfolio of services have recognise that design is something that clients want, because going back to the second page of the report and to what (dropped sound 32:38) said Michael is experience is becoming the key factor for customer satisfaction. So as the fortune 100 wants to bring experience into their company, but not sure where to go. Can they go to design firms? Well what if it turns out that KPMG already have design as part of their offerings, so it’s like one stop shopping which is an amazing point in history because it means that maybe you are a fortune 100 company without a CDO, like Jony Ive and may be McKinsey, and you hired McKinsey, and McKinsey could bring in design as well. It’s a whole new world, so design is going to be everywhere in companies actually right now and the future.

Michael Krigsman:

(33:31) When a company like McKinsey buys or builds itself a design department, what are some of the consideration that they have to think about, because don’t they run the risk of now stratifying the company in a sense to internally from an innovation standpoint to the haves and the have nots.

John Maeda:

(33:57) I’m glad you’ve brought that up because I’ve been fortunate to have an intimate view into McKinsey thanks to Hugo Sarrazin of McKinsey who helped me see that when they acquired Lunar it wasn’t as if they weren’t doing design before. McKinsey was already doing design inside McKinsey before, and Hugo’s background is a Stanford trained roboticist with some B school action when he was younger.

(34:23) So there are authentic McKinsey DNA in design that already grew and it was scaled with a Lunar acquisition. For instance Accenture acquiring Fjord; I met one of the cofounders in London just last year. When you hear how they were acquired when they were roughly 100 plus employees and now they’ve grown to 200 plus employees. You would think that when the consulting company acquires the design they might lose all the employees. But the data is showing that maybe there able to not just attain them but increase them. But of course it will depend and it will be a shakeout the next few years to see what happens to these companies.

Michael Krigsman:

(35:10) And what about the dimension of the company taking the design culture that exists inside this acquisition and trying to diffuse it throughout their own broader organizations.

John Maeda:

(35:26) That’s a great question. Well that’s a question of how these companies lead the integration of design and that is why with urgency I wanted to put this spotlight on the fact that there are three kinds of design because if performed correctly it’ll bunch together the design thinkers, the computational designers and the traditional designers, but they’re all different and the only way to create a design culture is to know their at three kinds of design cultures and they have to be treated differently.

Michael Krigsman:

(36:06) So inside a company that is adopting design as a strong cultural attribute, what recommendations do you have to ensure that that design fulfills it’s potential, let me just put it that way.

John Maeda:

(36:25) I’ve a very simple recommendation, it’s in the report. It requires the CEO to really care about design. Not just as a buzzword but to understand there’s three kinds of design and to understand there’s three kinds of designers in their company. It requires the executive team to understand the design is not just about pretty things like a good looking shirt, but there are business design thinkers that can help the company think more agile. There are computational designers that work at a whole different scale and reliability in large user basis.

(37:03) And yes there are the traditional designers who design amazing quality experiences in print in the old way, but there’s three kinds of designers and that have to be able to talk to them differently. 

Michael Krigsman:

(37:16) I would think that this represents quite a significant challenge to many of these companies.

John Maeda:

(37:25) It just means it’s hard. I’ll never forget when I just joined the faculty at MIT in 1996, the Dean at the school an amazing man maned William J Mitchell, he passed away unfortunately, but an amazing visionary man. After my first two years I’m working with industry, with corporations. I’m working with the other research faculty; I’m working with the students. I was doing crazy, like how do you do all this. You know Dean Mitchell how do you do this. He looked at me sternly and said ‘Suck it up John, just suck it up’. So what I’m saying is that it’s hard because it’s interesting and it’s important. So if you want to master design you’re not going to be able to snap your fingers and figure it out. There’s three kinds of design. They’re different. Just figure them out.

Michael Krigsman:

(38:23) We have only less than 10 minutes left, so would you cycle through and give us advice and we’ve been talking about large companies, so what’s your advice regarding design to large organizations.

John Maeda:

(38:45) I don’t believe in silver bullets; I call them silver rays if you point them in the right direction. So I would say a great silver ray is to bring design expertise into the boardroom, into the executive team meetings but not to review design. Not to have opinionated design. Not to ask like is this pretty or cool or whatever, but to ask how can design thinking be used in our company better? How can we help our culture innovate better? That’s the number one thing I would ask large companies to do more of, and if they were a modern digital company, you’re already killing it on the computational design. So get the fact that that kind of design is different from designs that is practiced in the communication department. There’s two different kinds of designs. There’s digital product design and communication design, which is also digital to but they’re different things.

Michael Krigsman:

(39:49) So before we go on to the next request for advice we have another question from Twitter, from Natalie Hanson who I happen to know is an ethnographer I believe and she asks what about experience design and service design. How do they fit into your three tier model?

John Maeda:

(40:13) Well thank you Natalie, someone also asked me about social design and we know there are so many kinds of design. I would put experience design and service design into computational design. I would put service design also into design thinking. There is overlap there and you might wonder why I chose these three, it’s because I know there’s 15 of them and these three will work for now.

Michael Krigsman:

(40:48) Okay, moving onward, what is your advice for small companies say startups in terms from a design perspective.

John Maeda:

(41:01) I would say that what’s really important that you know I don’t like to sort of claim victory or get too happy because it’ll only get you a little bit dumb – what is it; morals are okay but the rest isn’t. But one of the senior partners, Conner Perkins just after the design and tech report came out was saying to me how he’d just reviewed a startup team for an investment and noticed that it was all engineers as cofounders.

(41:23) And he told them that they had to come back with a designer on the founding team because their experience wasn’t very good, but he also added that sometimes they’ll have maybe two engineers pitch and the design is good. So I want to note that some engineers can design well. But if they can’t design well they need a designer in the founding team. So if you’re a startup, if you’re consumer orientated and your competition has good experience, if you don’t have a designer at the beginning of your startup, you won’t build culture, it’ll be hard to hire them later so start early.

Michael Krigsman:

(42:08) You know as somebody who has been focusing on enterprise software for many years I would absolutely say not just for consumer startups, but going back to the graph you have of the touch points of the old days. We had touch points a few times during the day now it’s all day long, for enterprise software as well, if you don’t have great experience you’re screwed.

John Maeda:

(42:33) Well a great example of that is Slack and how Slack was able to exploit the fact that people were used to having a higher quality of software for Facebook, consumer etc. So now they go to work and there software’s no good, so tier point enterprise software has had to because of this pressure.

Michael Krigsman:

(42:52) What about advice for designers, for either younger designers who are in school or older established designers who are facing a very different world than from the one which they graduated school years ago.

John Maeda:

(43:08) For the students still in school I highly recommend internship programs. One thing that KPCB has is KPCB Fellows Programme. They come for the summer, they’ work at a startup, they learn what they can’t learn in school.

(43:24) But those people who are older, let’s say myself includes; I’m in that sort of 50s sort of class. I feel lucky that I’ve had the break out of my life as it was and work in Silicon Valley and learned, and hang out with younger people and also people about the same age and older learning what they know that I didn’t know about tech. So I urge people who are out of it, get close, make friends, carry coffee – I’ll carry coffee sometimes also, I’ll say ‘hey want some coffee. I want to learn’. Open up, open yourself up.

Michael Krigsman:

(43:57) And you know I feel like we’re going through these questions so rapid fire, but we’re going to run out of time. I wish we had another couple of hours to talk. You have started sending out a newsletter called Asian Identity dot tech, tell us about that.

John Maeda:

(44:18) Well I longed believe in inclusive thinking leads to a more generative created outcome, and you bring people in who are different. Quite recently I had events and they had a lot of women, and it’s 70% of women. So I would ask well let’s bring in some men. At Silicon Valley, I would see events that are mainly men so I would ask well let’s bring in some women; let’s balance out to the real world. Or if people are not colored representing, people who are different genders and not represented.

(44:52) If you don’t consciously build and interesting floor of people that outcome is less creative. So Asian Identity dot tech was an attempt to ask the question, what can I do with my Asian identity. As an Asian man I feel a bit like a type of  minority; I fit in with everybody, and I wanted to talk about that role which is a bit awkward. To be the modern minority for a long time has kind of bothered me, so that’s what I’m acting out a bit in my older age.

Michael Krigsman:

(45:23) Well I enjoy reading your newsletter. We’re just about out of time. Any final thoughts on your distilled considered wisdom boil it all down on design on these topics that we’ve been discussing.

John Maeda:

(45:44) The best way to boil it down is realizing it’s not my own wisdom. It’s a wisdom of Margaret Stuart if you haven’t looked at her readings, her writings, her talks, she’s a great Ted Talk. Margaret Stuart leads designer at Facebook, is just the fact when you listen to these new design leaders and thinkers in the technology space and you can see how they’re leading with the classical design mentality with this digital computation perspective that’s brand new, and are great leaders in the combination you can learn so much. So don’t listen to me; listen to Margaret Stuart and people like that, and I’m still learning from them every day.

Michael Krigsman:

(46:25) Okay, Jon Maeda, design partner from Kleiner Perkins, thank you so much John for taking the time. This time has gone by so quickly and I hope you come back again.

John Maeda:

(46:36) My pleasure, thank you Michael.

Michael Krigsman:

(46:38) And everybody thank you for watching. This coming Friday at our usual time we’ll be speaking with Matt Preschern, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of HCL Technologies which has about $7 billion in revenue and 100,000 employees and we’re going to talk about some of the same issues from a digital and business transformational perspective. Thank you everybody, thank you to John Maeda, thank you to Kleiner Perkins for all of your help and making this possible and we’ll see you soon everybody, bye bye.

 

Companies mentioned in today’s show

Accenture                                                                    www.accenture.com

Airbnb                                                                         www.airbnb.com

Apple                                                                           www.apple.com

Deloitte                                                                       www.deliotte.com

Facebook                                                                     www.facebook.com

Flipboard                                                                     https://flipboard.com

GM                                                                              www.gm.com

IBM                                                                             www.ibm.com

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers                                www.kpcb.com          

KPCB Internship Fellows Programme                         www.kpcbfellows.com 

MIT                                                                              www.web.mit.edu/  

Nest                                                                             www.nest.com

New Relic                                                                    www.newrelic.com

Tesla                                                                            www.tesla.com

Twitter                                                                        www.twitter.com

 

John Maeda

Asian Identity dot tech            http://tinyletter.com/asianidentity-tech                   

LinkedIn                                   www.linkedin.com/in/johnmaeda     

Twitter                                    https://twitter.com/johnmaeda

Design in Tech Report 2016   www.kpcb.com/blog/design-in-tech-report-2016