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John Payne

Head of Design, Public Policy Lab

John Payne, stands in ID studio space

The mindset of the designer is that we are going to get together and create something as opposed to deciding on something

John Payne is focused on design for technology and society. As Head of Design at the Public Policy Lab, a nonprofit service design consultancy, he is dedicated to helping the organization achieve its mission of creating more helpful public services for low-income and under-resourced Americans. He has been a thought leader in the human-centered interaction design community since the early 2000s. A faculty member at the Institute of Design since 2020, he has taught Digital Service Design as well as an Emerging Tech Survey introducing students to a number of emerging technologies and investigating their societal implications.

John has also taught graduate-level design research and methodology courses at Parsons School of Design in New York (2002–04 and 2010–11) and New York University (2001). He received a Master of Design (MDes) from ID and a Bachelor’s in Industrial Design from Auburn University.

Industry Experience

John was Director of Experience Design at Verizon (2018–2023) focused on leveraging conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and service design to improve Verizon’s Customer Service experiences. He co-founded and served as managing director of Moment, one of the first digital product design firms on the East Coast (2002–2018) until Verizon’s acquisition of Moment. Formerly, John was Director of User Experience at Sapient (1999–2002). John has co-chaired and curated two international conferences—EPIC 2012, the premier international conference on ethnography in business and design, and IxDA’s Interaction 2017, the Interaction Design Association’s annual global conference.

Select Publications

Payne, John. “Back to the Future: What’s Next for Healthcare,” Prescribe Design (January 16, 2017).

Payne, John. “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and (Empathetic) Understanding,” Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings (August 5, 2016).

Payne, John. “From Experience Models to Immersion Tools: Transferring Ethnographic Knowledge in an Agile World,” Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings (August 13, 2014).

Payne, John. “Teaching Ethnography For User Experience: A Workshop On Occupy Wall Street,” Ethnography Matters (2012).