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September 25, 2020

About the Host

Johnny Saye is an Innovation Consultant and Design Thinking Coach for Alliance Safety Council, using human-centered design to reinvigorate employees’ innovative spirits, assist in creative problem solving at all department levels, and build digital products that wow customers (and have great ROIs). Additionally, he is a professor of Entrepreneurial Strategy at Loyola University of New Orleans.

He has experience partnering with multimillion-dollar brands as well as startups, helping to innovate in products and services such as: product packaging, marketing campaigns, business applications, robots, and employee experiences. An expert in Design Thinking and Workshop Facilitation, he has led over 300 sessions in the past 3 years and is a certified Design Sprint Master. He is also Co-Author of Let’s Flow- A Rapsodia Workshop Experience and featured in Making of a Level 5 Design Thinker by Shankar Thayumanavan.

His core focus is to help align teams, build products, and get to quality solutions fasters by using innovative methodologies like design thinking, design sprinting, and visual thinking to foster collaboration and real results. He helps build the obvious, and not so obvious, to make powerful experiences with playful passion. Johnny completed his Master’s in Innovation at UCAM (Spain) and has a B.A. in Communications from Belhaven University. Having chosen a less traditional path, Johnny had several careers before finding a home in Design Thinking. He is a former professional soccer player for teams in Brazil and America, a former journalist, as well as a former door-to-door salesman.

Workshop Recap

Written by Niesha Ford 

Ooo baby, here I am, sign, sealed, delivered, I’m yours” Stevie Wonder sang as the first design thinking breakfast was getting started. 

In this time during COVID-19, connecting with people virtually has never been more important. The first of three design thinking breakfasts in Fall 2020 kicked off on Sept 25th with our first guest, Johnny Saye 

The session began with introductions and welcomes from Dr. Lesley-Ann Noel and Graduate Assistant, Niesha Ford. Next, the guest of the hour, Johnny Saye, introduced himself with some of the most interesting stories most of us have ever heard. From traveling to Spain to playing professional soccer, we were all ready to hear what Johnny Saye had next for us! 

The Activity  

“What’s the worst idea you have ever had? Look at these examples, a baby to help do the sweeping? What about glasses to help you put in your eyedrops?” – Johnny asked  

“Write down as many ideas are you can …. in 4 minutes.”  

Participants came up with as many ideas that they could, with most finishing with more than four ideas written down. Next were the breakout rooms. A group of 3-4 people went into breakout rooms to share their ideas. Which one was the best worst idea?  

Before the groups got to share what idea they selected, they were put back into breakout rooms. Each group had to create a persona for the product they selected in their groups. The persona was an imaginary (or real) person that would buy their selected product.  

“But these ideas are bad ones, how will we market this idea to someone?” asked one participant.   

“That’s the point. Be creative. ”- Johnny Saye said  

Then they were put into breakout rooms. Each group had 10 minutes to come up with their persona and explain their product.  

Each group had 1 minute to give their persona and their pitch for why the persona would buy their products.

Here were the products:  

  • Group 5: Flying Post-it Notes that Recycle Themselves. The title says it all!  
  • Group 4: Happy Nails on The Go. Never sit and get your nails done again! 
  • Group 3: Black Hole Sticky Diaper.  A diaper that taken in the poop so you don’t have to touch it! 
  • Group 2: The Super Spoon- A spoon for all your spoon needs- pasta, cereal, gumbo! 
  • Group 1: The Blat (Balding Hat). A hat that causes balding 

Which did you like best? Which sold you? We all voted and the winner was…..

  The Black Hole Sticky Diaper  

Time to Connect

At the conclusion of the hour, Johnny gave a small debrief of the activity and how we can add these ideas to our design thinking toolkit. Then we got to chat. The audience came from diverse places and it was great to network with individuals from all over the world. New Orleans to Ecuador and Baton Rouge to Amsterdam – it was refreshing to see how connected we could all be in this new virtual world.  

During this time, it’s easy to lose or miss out on the fun the world has to offer. I hope design thinking breakfasts can be that reprieve people need from their ordinary Zoom meetings or online interactions.  

Do you need something to switch up the pace? Want to network with people around the world?  

Please join us for our next design thinking breakfast! You won’t regret it! 

About the Series

The Taylor Center’s monthly Design Thinking (DT) Breakfast is a space to build community among those using design, design thinking, and related methods for social impact with some local flavor, particularly from the greater New Orleans area and the Gulf South.

  • These casual events will be moving to an online format until further notice … and breakfasts will be BYOC – ‘Bring your own coffee’.
  • The goal is to learn from each other. The format will evolve as we learn, together, what might be most valuable (and enjoyable!) to us all. Breakfasts will include both time to mingle and one or two quick activities to foster knowledge-sharing or community-building.

The DT breakfasts are open to all. No DT experience is required.

  • Come with an open heart and mind and prepare to learn and share with others in the local, regional, and international DT community.
  • Please invite anyone who would enjoy both sharing with and learning from other practitioners and educators in the greater New Orleans area, the Gulf South, and connecting with other people in the local, regional and international design thinking community.
  • When: One Friday each Month from 8:30am – 9:30am CST.
  • Cost: Free

Contact: Niesha Ford at

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