Seasoned innovation leader with diverse background that includes product and experience design, user research, strategy and marketing. Passionate about helping companies think about the future of their products, services and customer experiences, and seeing these through to fruition in the market.
- Synthesizing insights from strategy, user research, design and technology to identify business opportunities and develop product plans and roadmaps.
- Leading multi-disciplinary teams (often spread across offices and continents) on fast-paced, complex development projects that involve hardware, software and services.
- Confident and dynamic speaker in front of C-level and large audiences, with extensive facilitation experience. Quickly build trust and collaborative working methods.
- Articulate writer, currently writing for Harvard Business Review Online, and author of the book Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems are its Greatest Advantage, published by Jossey-Bass. Book received endorsements from Dan Pink, Don Norman, and the CMO of HP. Details at innovationxbook.com.
- MA in Humanities from University of Chicago. Interdisciplinary degree with emphasis in design studies/sociology, created an individualized program for studying design research (before such a term existed). 1997.
- BFA in Industrial Design with High Distinction from California College of the Arts. 1992. Recognized as one of top 100 alumni in CCA’s first one hundred years.
Assistant Vice President Marketing, frog design / Aricent Group: 04.2011 - Present
Marketing Strategy Director, frog design / Aricent Group: 09.2010 - 03.2011
Responsible for corporate marketing and marketing strategy globally for frog (13 offices, 1,600 staff) and its parent company, the Aricent Group (33 offices, 10,000 staff). This was a newly-created role reporting to CMO, recognizing that Aricent lacks a global view of market intelligence and strategy. Work closely with sales and other marketing functions: product marketing, corporate marketing, PR and regional marketing in Europe and Asia. Key responsibilities include:
- Marketing and offering strategy: Conduct market intelligence, formulate offerings for diverse range of customers. Led simplification of overly complex go-to-market message across BUs. Assist with integration of American, European, Chinese and Indian marketing teams.
- Brand: Lead team of designers in US and India to create identity and collateral for the Aricent Group. Architected new brand positioning and identity for Aricent and frog, leading $2.5m+ effort involving research, strategy, identity across numerous touchpoints, managing brand agency, and internal and external rollout campaigns. Crafted new company-wide mission, vision and values.
- Thought leadership: Responsible for developing content to demonstrate Aricent and frog’s innovation approaches and expertise, especially targeted to VP- and C-level, including whitepapers, conferences, blogs, webinars. Work closely with corporate and regional marketing teams to coordinate efforts, and with sales teams for both frog and Aricent to develop key thought leadership topics. Developed relationships with business schools, including Haas (UC Berkeley) and IESE (Barcelona); ran several executive education/MBA workshops a year; initiated Haas/frog joint research project examining the effect of social media on health habits.
- PR: Manage PR efforts with a team in US and India, and external PR vendors.
- Workshops: Have run over 50 collaborative ideation workshops while at frog for a wide variety of participants, ranging from 1/2 to 3 days. High profile workshops have included World Economic Forum, NASA, and Lift Conference (Geneva). Developed a sales-oriented version of frog’s frogThink collaborative workshops, which has proven successful at allowing Aricent and frog to engage with customer’ executives in ways that open up dialog and new opportunities, leading to millions of dollars of work, including Intel, P&G, Humana, UBS.
Creative Director, frog design: 04.2009 - 09.2010
Transitioned from Strategy to Creative Director, taking on broader project oversight responsibility, and integrating strategy in the research phases. Managed several high-profile, complex projects, directed work of senior and junior designers, researchers and engineers. Managed and mentored designers and researchers reporting to me. Key engagements included:
- Autoinjector: Led 1.5 year, $1m+ project for a major bio-med company making their first product, a motorized injector for weekly injections for patients with highly compromised mobility. Extensive qualitative and quantitative user research, tight integration with third-party contract manufacturer based in Italy, and navigating regulatory-driven, process-minded client with no experience doing sophisticated devices.
- Electric Vehicle Concept: Led a short, intense future vision project for a major Japanese manufacturing to examine the possibilities for a luxury EV. Competitive and trends analysis, secondary user research, led workshop to bring multiple client stakeholders together for first time, and concept visualizations to explain what luxury could mean in an EV context to an engineering-oriented audience.
Director of Product Strategy, frog design: 03.2007 - 03.2009
Strategy Director, frog design: 05.2004 - 02.2007
Senior Strategist, frog design: 06.2003 - 04.2004
Was one of frog’s first strategists. Built foundations of frog’s (previously non-existent) user and competitive research capabilities, establishing critical early cases and credibility. Managed much of strategy team in California and Texas, during which time team grew from 3 to 15 in multiple offices. Responsible for bringing in new work, scoping, budget, resourcing and leading projects, in both hands-on and oversight roles. Clients included Clorox, DaimlerChrysler, Logitech, Microsoft, Nike, Samsung, Sandisk, Yahoo! Key engagements included:
- Hewlett Packard: Was part of core team within frog for this major account ($35m+ total revenue), which included working with HP teams developing digital entertainment, imaging, computing, and design standards. Pitched and led many of the 220+ projects. Selected by HP corporate design as one of two coaches from all of HP’s design vendors to work with internal teams on design process and methodologies.
- Humana: Led strategic engagement working with Humana’s Medicare group (largest and most profitable BU), using consumer insights to inform development of new service experiences for retirees transitioning into Medicare. Worked with multiple stakeholders to define requirements, facilitated focus group sessions, helped sell in results and service concepts to organization under pressure from regulatory change.
- Vodafone: Played major role in establishing a now six-year relationship with Vodafone, identifying new opportunities for multimedia services and conducting in-depth competitive analysis/benchmarking, and became a trusted advisor for key executives.
- South Korea Telecom: Led engagement focused on social e-commerce with the leading Korean wireless telecommunications provider who was seeking ways to enter US market with online services.
- NASA: Led an exciting and intensive engagement examining new ways to reduce start-up and ongoing costs by 90% for a planned moon mission system.
Founder and Principal, Carbon Collective: 01.2002 - 05.2003
Ran own company providing a range of design services, including ethnographic research, user needs-finding, trend analysis, competitor analysis, usability testing, and conceptual design through to engineering. Clients included Microsoft, Sonic Blue and Sun Microsystems.
Senior Analyst, Bizwerk/frog design: 10.2000 - 11.2001
frog design created a software startup, Bizwerk, to develop a software application aimed at product development organizations. As member of Innovation Process Group, played a key role in formulating feature-set and use-models to guide software design, working closely with the UI and engineering teams to define specs and deploy.
Senior Designer, Praxis Product Design: 06.1997 - 10.2000
Responsible for the conceptualization and development of products in the consumer electronics, computer and consumer goods fields. Brought user research capabilities to the firm, led all ethnographic research, and defined conceptual and aesthetic visions for products and carried them through to production. Led research and design on line of children’s toothbrushes for Oral-B, which became the top seller worldwide and are still available today, a decade later. Additional clients included NetApp, Casio, Oceanic Dive Gear.
Lead Industrial Designer, Sun Microsystems: 06.1992 - 07.1996
After a year as staff designer, was promoted to industrial design lead for Sun’s large servers. Worked closely with marketing and engineering to define architectures and features of new products, which led to over $500m of revenue. Developed an evolution of Sun’s corporate design language for servers. Mended the strained relationship between engineering and design. Participated in global user research and usability studies.
- 2008: BusinessWeek/IDSA Award, Turbochef Speedcook Oven
- 2003: Good Design Award, Oral-B children’s toothbrushes
- 2003: Honorable Mention, ID Magazine Design Competition, Dickies dotRobe concept
- 2000: CES Innovation Best of Show award for Infogear iPhone
- 1996: Scholarship awarded by University of Chicago
- 1992: Award of Excellence, Sony Design Vision International Student Design Competition
Patents: Functional patents for Microsoft Tablet PC navigation control and frog collaboration software. Multiple design patents for Sun computer enclosures, Oral-B toothbrushes.
Guest lecturer at several institutions: Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, IESE Business School in Barcelona, and the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, Paris
- 2006: Juror, Bottom Line Design Awards (Business 2.0 Magazine and frog design collaboration)
- 1999: Juror, IDSA IDEA annual design competition
- 1998 - 2005: Adjunct Professor in industrial design at California College of the Arts, San Francisco
- Write a regular blog for Harvard Business Review Online. Also blog for frog (www.frogdesign.com/amphibious) and have a personal blog (www.richardsona.com)
- 2010: Author of book, Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems are its Greatest Advantage, published by Jossey-Bass (a division of Wiley), Feb 2010. See www.innovationxbook.com
- 2011: “Creating User Experience,” Economic Observer (the Financial Times equivalent in China, print edition, in Chinese)
- 2007-2010: Co-author Matter/Anti-Matter blog on Cnet
- 2006-2007: Regular contributor to Car Design News, the premier website for professional car designers
- 2007: Initiated and edited special “green” issue of frog’s online Design Mind newsletter. This was turned into a printed edition as a promotional piece.
- 2007: Conducted interview with Gary Erikson, CEO of Clif Bar, for Design Mind
- 2006: Wicked Problems, article for Design Mind
- 2005: From the Information Age to the Recommendation Age, for Design Mind (cited in Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail
- 2005: Design for the Bottom Line, interviewed for this article for Microsoft’s OEM Connect newsletter
- 2004: Design: Strategic Partnerwith a Point of View. Primary author on article about design consultancies as strategic partners, highlighting frog’s approach, for Design Management Journal
- 2003: Article for Readymade magazine about wheelchair designer Ralf Hotchkiss
- 2001: “Design Shape-Shifts Again,” article on the increasing complexity of design for Innovation magazine
- 2000: “Clairvoyance: The Gold at the End of the Rainbow,” article on trend analysis for Innovation
- 1999: “Mountain Meets the Road”, article on bicycle design for Graphis magazine
- 1994: Design work featured in Axis magazine, in article entitled “The New Corporate Design”
- 1993: “Death of the Designer”, paper published in Design Issues
I have been active in speaking about design, business and technology since the beginning of my career, and been one of the most prolific speakers and authors on behalf of frog. Selected speaking engagements:
- 2011: Workshop leader, World Economic Forum Global Growth Companies, San Francisco, CA
- 2011: Workshop leader and speaker, Mobile World Congress, Barcelona
- 2010: Speaker, Salesforce.com Design Series, San Francisco
- 2010: Panelist at >Play Conference, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
- 2010: Keynote speaker, workshop program organizer, i7 Summit, Chantilly, France
- 2010: Speaker, TEDx Taipei
- 2010: Workshop leader and speaker, Lift Conference, Geneva. Conducted live design research on conference itself
- 2010: Keynote speaker, Next Web Conference, Amsterdam
- 2008: 2-day workshop on sustainable design for Design Management Institute
- 2008: Panelist, UT Austin Sustainable Business Summit
- 2007: Speaker, Inverge Conference, Portland, OR
- 2007: Speaker, Silicon Valley Product Managers Association
- 2007: Speaker, ToyCon Conference, San Antonio, TX
- 2006: Participant, Microsoft Spark UX Summit
- 2006: Speaker, MX Conference, “Managing Schizophrenic projects”
- 2005: Speaker, 2005 Netherlands Technology Officers Conference, Delft
- 2005: Panelist, Reducing Product Complexity, AT Kearney Worldwide Technology Summit
- Citizenship: British and American dual citizenship
- Languages: English (native), French (basic)
- Interests: Photography (online portfolio), writing, cooking, hi-fi audio, cycling