Jake Knapp
Writer, Speaker
Jake Knapp is the author of New York Times bestseller "Sprint" and the forthcoming book "Make Time". Jake spent 10 years at Google and Google Ventures, where he created the Design Sprint process.
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THE INNOVATION SERIES

Jake Knapp

Episode 8 / September 15, 2019

In this episode of The Innovation Series we speak with Jake Knapp, former Partner at Google Ventures, about what it takes to sell innovation to internal stakeholders.

Q

Randy: Randy: We would like to welcome Jake Knapp to The Innovation Series. Depending on the day, you could be described as an inventor, a writer, a coach and even one of the world's tallest designers...so much contribution to the collective good. We want more. What are you putting your time into now, and where can we find it?

Jake: Thanks for having me Randy. One trait that I always admire in founders is the ability to have "strong opinions weakly held." No one ever got into the business of entrepreneurship without a great deal of confidence. You left a comfortable job to start a new venture and you somehow convinced some other people— employees, co-founders, investors—to join you on this crazy mission. Lots of people told you that you were crazy and you'd never succeed. In the face of this, most founders are adept at pushing back at anyone who cautions that they might be wrong. Many of the truly great founders that I've worked with don't let this go to their head. They balance the hubris of trying something that's never been done before with the humility of knowing they could be wrong. This balance is hard to achieve but it's really a sweet spot for innovative founders.

Q

Randy: At GV you worked with startups like Nest and Blue Bottle Coffee, but before that, you provided design leadership for products inside larger companies like Google and Microsoft. Are there any learnings working with startups you could share with teams in larger companies to help them deliver?

Jake: Thanks for having me Randy. One trait that I always admire in founders is the ability to have "strong opinions weakly held." No one ever got into the business of entrepreneurship without a great deal of confidence. You left a comfortable job to start a new venture and you somehow convinced some other people— employees, co-founders, investors—to join you on this crazy mission. Lots of people told you that you were crazy and you'd never succeed. In the face of this, most founders are adept at pushing back at anyone who cautions that they might be wrong. Many of the truly great founders that I've worked with don't let this go to their head. They balance the hubris of trying something that's never been done before with the humility of knowing they could be wrong. This balance is hard to achieve but it's really a sweet spot for innovative founders.

Q

Randy: In your last Sprint newsletter you featured an article titled, How to Make Design Sprints Work at Big Companies. I've worked with quite a few large companies in a product design capacity and used exercises from the sprint book very effectively. However, I sometimes struggle to implement the unadulterated 5-day process inside the context of larger companies. Do you have any stories you can share that demonstrate how teams have leveraged (or adapted) the sprint process effectively inside large companies?

Jake: Thanks for having me Randy. One trait that I always admire in founders is the ability to have "strong opinions weakly held." No one ever got into the business of entrepreneurship without a great deal of confidence. You left a comfortable job to start a new venture and you somehow convinced some other people— employees, co-founders, investors—to join you on this crazy mission. Lots of people told you that you were crazy and you'd never succeed. In the face of this, most founders are adept at pushing back at anyone who cautions that they might be wrong. Many of the truly great founders that I've worked with don't let this go to their head. They balance the hubris of trying something that's never been done before with the humility of knowing they could be wrong. This balance is hard to achieve but it's really a sweet spot for innovative founders.

Q

Randy: #TBT Please step into the time machine, set the date for October 8, 2014. On this day you published an article titled Reactions > Feedback - a really interesting take on the interpretation of observations. This article has had a lasting impact on how I approach user testing today. What is the difference between reaction and feedback, and how can we figure out where the line is between the two?

Jake: Thanks for having me Randy. One trait that I always admire in founders is the ability to have "strong opinions weakly held." No one ever got into the business of entrepreneurship without a great deal of confidence. You left a comfortable job to start a new venture and you somehow convinced some other people— employees, co-founders, investors—to join you on this crazy mission. Lots of people told you that you were crazy and you'd never succeed. In the face of this, most founders are adept at pushing back at anyone who cautions that they might be wrong. Many of the truly great founders that I've worked with don't let this go to their head. They balance the hubris of trying something that's never been done before with the humility of knowing they could be wrong. This balance is hard to achieve but it's really a sweet spot for innovative founders.

Q

Randy: Alright, back to the future. In an interview you did recently with Jason Fried, the two of you seemed to have different opinions on the value of pre-launch testing. From your experience, can you give us your take on the importance of getting customer feedback before committing to build product. This is your chance to tell Jason he is wrong btw. Your welcome.

Jake: Thanks for having me Randy. One trait that I always admire in founders is the ability to have "strong opinions weakly held." No one ever got into the business of entrepreneurship without a great deal of confidence. You left a comfortable job to start a new venture and you somehow convinced some other people— employees, co-founders, investors—to join you on this crazy mission. Lots of people told you that you were crazy and you'd never succeed. In the face of this, most founders are adept at pushing back at anyone who cautions that they might be wrong. Many of the truly great founders that I've worked with don't let this go to their head. They balance the hubris of trying something that's never been done before with the humility of knowing they could be wrong. This balance is hard to achieve but it's really a sweet spot for innovative founders.

Q

Randy: In the beautiful homage you wrote to your father How to Live, How to Work, and How to Die you promised to do work that matters. Your work has touched a lot of people and is making a difference every day, on behalf of the design community, thank you so much and for all that you do and for being part of The Innovation Series.

Jake: Thanks for having me Randy. One trait that I always admire in founders is the ability to have "strong opinions weakly held." No one ever got into the business of entrepreneurship without a great deal of confidence. You left a comfortable job to start a new venture and you somehow convinced some other people— employees, co-founders, investors—to join you on this crazy mission. Lots of people told you that you were crazy and you'd never succeed. In the face of this, most founders are adept at pushing back at anyone who cautions that they might be wrong. Many of the truly great founders that I've worked with don't let this go to their head. They balance the hubris of trying something that's never been done before with the humility of knowing they could be wrong. This balance is hard to achieve but it's really a sweet spot for innovative founders.