Sam Small.jpeg

What do you do?

I’m a creative problem solver.

My experience is all over the place. I’ve worked in design, education and technology. In school, I studied everything from how people talk, and how fear works, all the way to the aesthetics of beards, and the dream of a universal language. What started as a seemingly random assortment of knowledge ended up being an education in people and the ways our human natures create, interact, and reject the systems we face every day. The truth is most problems are not unique. You might be facing a particularly sticky problem, with new people and new constraints, but by diving deep and getting to the core of the problem, we can understand its connections to thousands of other problems people have faced, therefore finding inspiration to solve it. 

I’m trained in Human-Centered Design and use the framework heavily. But you’ll also see aspects of community organizing, linguistics, biomimicry, psychology, and more, as we find solutions together. Unique to most designers, I’ve personally led implementation on many of my designs, meaning my advice comes from a place of both “pie in the sky” ideas and “boots on the ground” realities. 

The Tech Clause: I’ve also worked in-house in tech, meaning I know how to work with your engineers, understand what it actually takes to build a tech solutions, and can help you navigate that space as well.

 

Why social impact?

Because we need it. 

When you start seeing the world through the lens of systems, it becomes clear who’s winning and who's losing, and what’s causing those outcomes. I could go design systems to convince people to buy more products, find a parking space, or revolutionize the way the wealthy do laundry, but what would I be putting into the world? The systems that are most challenging, most worth solving, and most interesting, are the ones that could actually help us reframe the world we currently live in. And once you realize what’s at stake for the people losing in these systems, and that you can flip the narrative, how do you ever go back to designing solutions to parking? 

 

What counts as 'doing good'? 

“I’ll know it when I see it” 

Doing good is hard to define. Good for who? In what ways? The companies I work with are those that focus on striving for a future that brings more equality, more equity and more harmony. I also require the companies I work with to share the value of listening directly to those they serve, because it is a key to equity and a key to success. 

I’ve worked extensively in the education space, both in K-12 and Higher Ed. I have strong interests in job training, financial empowerment, poverty solutions, healthcare, sexual assault, sex education, and civil discourse. If your work isn’t listed, reach out and let’s talk. I can get excited about about things most people find dull, like the history of postage stamps and the design of sidewalks. If you’re excited, I’ll probably be too.