1. Design Cultures, Not Things
Ideas—expressing them and giving form to them are at the heart of a designer’s rich interior life. It’s the “good part.” The “why we wake up” part. And it’s also the part we try to skip to after sitting through the endless drone of the ambiguous early calls where we decide what the most valuable problem worth solving is and why we’re doing it.Then we give our baby away and hope for the best, placating ourselves that it’s all really out of our hands and the suits will raise our child in the wild. The problem with this mindset is it keeps designers in an anecdotal role. Our real goal is not to make deliverables but to make holistic experiences that change cultures—both the client’s and the customer’s.After all, a culture change offers metrics at the fundamental level that you’ve changed or enhanced the way people think, their values, their processes and perspectives, and that you’ve created a platform for the iteration of new possibilities and paradigms that will exert possible futures. This is the greatest gift we could offer our clients: a hospitable platform for processing and realizing “dangerous” ideas.This can come from client co-creation in activities such as workshops and pilots but it also may require partnering with a change management specialist to set up steering committees for innovation. I think the goal for the designer in respect to designing cultures is to enlarge their personal sense of responsibility beyond the output.They need to realize that in order to achieve impact they have to get engaged and embrace the constraint of the orthodoxies that exist in these client cultures, factor them into their proposed solution so that what they produce sees the light of day and can absorb the volatility of the market.
2. Take 100% Responsibility for Every Relationship
Design is a social discipline and requires multiple minds and skills because the systemic problems we tackle are so complex. What people forget is that trust and respect—even more so than ability in many cases—must exist for the work to be great.Trust and respect are not simply neutral. They are not the absence of mistrust and disrespect but are active energies that must be drawn upon to produce great work. They are earned.And I’ve found the best way to earn them is not only to trust and respect yourself (which you should), but to take 100% responsibility for every relationship you have on your team. That includes account managers and PMs and other “non-designers.” We weaken ourselves and our ability when we say “this person should act this way.” We become victims instead of active transformative agents that forge a collective trust that benefits the group.If you take 100% responsibility for each relationship on your team you are less likely to bottle up your personal power because it’s all “out of your hands” and because that “guy is an a-hole.” Taking 100% responsibility means you commit to always being engaged in every relationship. You may not change Napoleon into Bambi but you will take ownership over how your disdain for that person effects the larger morale and creative energetic flow of your team. And the collective energy of your team is the difference between mediocrity and high performance.
3. Great Design comes from the Marriage of Intention and Emotion
Jared Spool has said that “Design is the rendering of intent” which I believe to be true. Intent allows us to contain a hypothesis that can only be answered by a previously unknown truth. The designer’s intent should aspire to include a mechanism that will deliver new knowledge to the world.Knowledge, as in a way of knowing the world differently, can contribute directly to the evolution of our planet and species. Knowledge is the gold and information is simply the raw data. But additionally I believe the designer must not only have an ambitious intention, but that they should also seal their intent with emotion, which becomes the breath of life for what we propose.If emotional connections drive our ideation then emotional detachments improve them. But where we screw up is we don’t cycle back to the emotional connection after we’ve detached, traumatized by the drama of the design process.That last step, to achieve kaizen is through coming back to your emotional connection. To believe in it. To give a damn before you unleash your finished design upon the world. This artful marriage of intent and emotion through the trials of ebb and flow are what draw waves into particles. It’s extracts possibilities from an impossible universe.
Design and Innovation from Accenture Interactive