Designing the future of work ft. Clay Richardson
Play • 25 min

In this special expert-led episode, Clay Richardson, CEO and Chief Excelerator of Digital Fast Forward talks about his passion for strategic design thinking and its evolving impact on the future of work. He discusses how taking a more human-centred approach to innovation and technology is driving better business. Plus, listen as Clay and host Jo Richardson discuss the insights and expertise presented in the first three episodes.


Key Takeaways:

[1:11] Clay has listened to our previous episodes and is here to give his expert insight and biggest takeaways from what he heard. Episode 1 was with Banu Kannu, co-founder of Uncommon Conferences. Episode 2 was Kumud Kalia, CIO of Guardant Health, and Episode 3 was David Moricca - founder and CEO of Socialive.

[2:39] Clay explains why he fell in love with design thinking. He came from a business process management background and saw so many projects and initiatives that died on the vine because it took so long to get results. Design thinking helps jumpstart innovation, get to results quickly, and actually have fun in the process.

[3:18] Clay defines design thinking as a set of practices that help leaders and teams move from logical problem solving to creative experimentation. Whatever you are focused on, it has to have the customer and employee at the center.

[4:26] One of the research studies Digital Fastforward did with Pega was on designing the future of work. They talked to leaders at 40 different companies and analyzed how they were adapting and came away with a few takeaways. Low tech and low touch ways to ideate and brainstorm, such as Google sheets, helped with collaboration. While some teams were trying to experiment with new ideas very quickly, the low code approach worked in many areas quite well.

[7:00] Clay discusses the common themes in the interviews with Banu, Kumud, and David in regards to what innovations leaders should be focusing on now, and the resonance he sees between how they faced the challenge of COVID and the work at Digital Fastforward.

[8:07] Clay notes that he appreciated that Banu took it past the “why” and went to the “what for”. David and Banu both made democratizing technology a way to design conversation and participation that really connects its users. As innovation leaders, designing conversations becomes critical.

[12:49] Clay discusses how to get meaningful work done during this time by blocking deep work time and minimizing distractions, such as putting the phone away.

[16:41] One of the things that Clay noted about Kumud’s growth story was his acceptance of technical debt while trying to ideate and innovate.

[19:21] Innovation can be expensive, but design thinking can help us quickly validate that this is something people will actually want to use.

[21:47] Productivity has increased by people working from home, according to Clay, the challenge for innovators over the next 3-5 years is coming up with sustained innovation that is not born from a survival situation.



  • “Too often, we don’t approach thinking as a task.” - Jo
  • “Imagining is a critical part of innovating.” - Jo
  • “Wow, people can jumpstart innovation, get to results quickly, and actually have fun in the process. Who knew?” - Clay
  • “What I love about the different stories like Banu’s and David’s is that they took the challenge of COVID and turned it into an opportunity.” - Clay
  • “You have to think about and prep for who is in the room, what are their personalities, and who do you need to pull out?” - Clay


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