Steve KrugI believe that Steve Krug has an understated influence on UX and Usability Testing. His books Don't Make Me Think and Rocket Surgery Made Easy have made what are traditionally high-barrier entry fields accessible to the mere mortal. His books are amongst the first I cite and recommend to new UX-ers & non-UX-ers to buy and read. I always seem to have either of these books near my fingertips when working through Mobile UX designs or trying to fix Mobile UX issues.
However even more rare than a true world-class UX expert and pioneer is truly humble and unassuming expert. With all of his fame, knowledge and expertise Steve has always remained accessible and still replies personally to all the email sent him. Even when we first met, he was willing to stay after a session and offered to give me extra credit help. Thanks Steve.
Niels BillouNiels Billou was in on the "ground-floor" of Design Thinking, working at the Hasso Plattner Institute School of Design Thinking, basically the second Design Thinking school after Hasso Plattner himself donated $35 million to Dave Kelley to start the Stanford d.School.
Being a Ivey Business School prof, Niels could have been very old school snobby and stuffy. Instead Niels is one of the most approachable and inviting people I've ever met and one of few professors who likely truly understands the concept of pedagogical responsibility. He went out of his way to ensure that another future Design Thinking coach and I got all the subtleties it takes to make Design Thinking work in "real life". I'm greatly indebted to him for helping to jump-starting my foray into DT and basically saving years in frustrating DT growing pains. Thanks Niels.
Alan DaifukuA little while back I had the pleasure of having Alan fly to Canada and teach me the SAP SCRUM Master Masterclass himself. It was highly enlightening to hear both the theoretical, but also the practical stories that Alan told us.
If I understand the story correctly, he and a few colleges in France are single-handedly responsible for getting Business Objects to move to Agile/SCRUM from a grass-roots movement. It was his team that saw an issue and sought out a new development methodology to overcome it. Years later when Business Objects was acquired by SAP, he helped the company to make it the defacto development standard of 68,000+ employee software giant.
However what sticks out even more in my mind is the inspiration that individuals can make a difference, that grass movements with good ideas and enough determination can move a company even as big as SAP. Thanks Alan.