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My work, my way

Read more about: Innovation | Digital

– During his 15+ years in design, Kwame has served some of the world’s leading organizations. A one–time New York City bike messenger, screenwriter, and music–video director, Kwame is now a vice president in Digital McKinsey, based in London. He uses his expertise in product, service, and customer experience design to build innovative solutions for our clients in banking, insurance and the social sector.

Where are you right now?

At my desk, at home in London, listening to the rain—and a snoring cat.

Kwame inline 2

Give us one word that best describes how you work.

Espresso.

Describe your problem–solving strategy in a sentence.

Follow the tiny truths to the big truths, and keep going until you just have the truth.

When you meet a client for the first time, what’s something you always try to do?

Find out what they’re passionate about. Sometimes it’s their work; most times it’s something unexpected and enlightening.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done for work?

I was a bike messenger in New York City for a summer. What was so cool about it—besides bombing non–stop down Fifth Avenue from the Flatiron to Washington Square Park at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday—was seeing behind the scenes of some of the most influential companies in the world and meeting the people at every level who were working to make them run. It was like we were all connected; we were all New York.

Give us an example a client impact story that makes you feel proud.

We got a group of insurance executives to use design–thinking principles to define a new process for setting financial targets. We knew we’d made a difference when, unprompted, one of the top executives proposed running two–week planning sprints as part of the new process.

Of all the songs on your iPhone, which one are you most embarrassed to admit you own? .

“Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli.

What are the ingredients of an ideal workspace?

A crisp whiteboard, a fat stack of A4 paper, and a fresh Sharpie.

Name one new thing you learned or mastered on the job last year.

I learned “how vital it is for designers to review and understand the business value at stake. This has become key in helping us ground the design in real numbers and the broader business priorities and opportunities.”

Name one thing you hope to learn or master this year.

Prototyping with Principle.

When did you last laugh at work and why?

I’m always laughing, because why not?

In a tweet, give a first year associate your best advice.

Do the work.

What’s your best tip for starting a tough project?

Make sure you talk to the people who will be using what you make.

When you look back at the end of your career, what do you want to see?

Balloons.

What do you listen to while you work?

Rhye, Boom Bip, Hucci, Run the Jewels, Perfume Genius and Nils Frahm.

What’s the last book you read?

“The Three–Body Problem” by Cixin Liu.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

A framed copy of The Desiderata.

Finally, tell us about a trend or innovation you’re really excited about.

I’m very interested in Open Banking, which is the development of government mandated APIs (application programming interfaces) that give pretty much anyone access to consumer banking data. It’s an effort to limit the UK banks’ monopoly on consumer financial data. I encourage everyone to consider how open banking APIs and friction less payments might impact their clients and their customers. It feels like we’re at the beginning of something kind of cool.

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