Personal update: Self-employed, writing a book, and looking for lunch

Not long ago, I wrote about Design at Jawbone. How quickly things change. Due to organizational restructuring, which lead to the elimination of all executive design roles, Friday was my last day.

There’s a big silver lining, though, as I’m co-writing a book on building and operating design organizations, and now I can do that during the day, instead of stealing time on evenings and weekends.

I’m considering management consulting gigs around design and product management. If you’re building an in-house design team and need sage advice and an outside perspectives, don’t hesitate to reach out.

And, I’m passively looking for my next full-time gig. I want to focus my time on the book, but if there are interesting conversations to be had about new opportunities, I’m always willing to talk.

Finally, given my new status, I’m up for all manner of breakfasts, lunches, coffees, and early ‘after-work’ drinks. If you’re not in the SF Bay Area, happy to hop on Skype or Google Hangouts. Let’s catch up!

Design at Jawbone

I’ve been remiss at updating my blog. On the day after my last post, I joined Jawbone to help lead the product design team. And today is a special day, because Dan Saffer, my former colleague from Adaptive Path, and most recently Director of Interaction Design at Smart Design, joins our growing team (in his inimitable style).

I was drawn to Jawbone because I could work on problems that I hadn’t yet tackled, except in conceptual hand-wavey ways at Adaptive Path:

  • hardware/software
  • Internet of Things
  • health/fitness

One thing Jawbone groks is that “the future of wearable technology is not about wearables, it’s about analyzing the data” (Guardian article), and we’ve done some remarkable work on the UP platform in this regard, specifically around what we call Smart Coach. Whereas other tracker systems seem focused on charts, graphs, and dashboards, Smart Coach presents your life in more human ways, with natural language, and prompts and encouragement to live better.

Actually, wearables is not even about the data — it’s about you. Our CEO Hosain Rahman refers to our approach to the Internet of You, where we take in all kinds of signals (from our wrist trackers and from partner’s apps and hardware), draw correlations, and provide insights and feedback across all manner of things. It’s hard work, and we’re only at the very beginning, but the promise is huge and inspiring.

From a strict design perspective, this is easily the most fun I’ve had since Adaptive Path. We’re involved in interactions with hardware, software, mobile, web, watches, and more. We have to balance between hard data and engaging copy. We have to make very hard tradeoffs (battery life versus displays; battery life versus size; battery life versus sensors… you get the picture). On my third day I played with a demo that was a legitimate “Wow, this could be the future!” moment. Just last week I wrote up specs for hardware UI.

In future posts, I’ll write more about my experience in designing at Jawbone. In the meantime, welcome, Dan – we’re going to have some fun!