Getting To Where We Need To Go… Really Need To Go

circular diagram (?)

As we set about our work there are two really important qualities we should all seek to imbue in the things that we do, irrespective of discipline. The first is continuous improvement, or the consistent and conscious actions of seeking to self-analyze, learn and do things better than we did them before… and to benefit from past experience without being defined by it. This is especially true of “process.” Too often we allow process to become what defines our projects, and process, when it becomes the end, is the demise of innovation and creativity. I find it incredibly hard to believe that a process that served a project two or three years ago has much relevance to work today. I have a tough time believing that a definitive process has any value at all. Process is something to be re-investigated at every opportunity, and continually improved upon. Process should be custom to the work, the team, and the realities of the operating environment. This is an area that many, many a creative enterprise could begin to investigate with excellent outcomes for their teams and their clients. We should work to create the project process at the beginning of a project, and build in opportunities to analyze and measure how this process is supporting the project goals, and the objectives of our clients.

The second important quality is that of facilitation. The world surrounding the design fields has become more intense, and the needs of our clients have changed to not be so much about the end result of our engagement… but about the understanding, the context, and the identification of strategic value. Enter the all important skill set of the facilitator. A key element of being a successful designer is developing deep understanding, and I would argue that success in many endeavors is now dependent on how well we facilitate this understanding with our project and client teams. of did a great last week with , of bplusd, which is what ultimately sent me down this path. From the interview, I really liked Jess McMullin’s take on facilitation:

“In our practice, the thing that has become a barrier for us in delivering successful projects is how our clients and the different stakeholders on a project work together. In the last couple years we have focused on saying, “How can we better work with a business in order to understand what they really need and to deliver a successful project?” The things that derail projects are much more around different people having competing priorities, really different understandings of what the project is trying to accomplish, different visions for the project, and a general lack of alignment between decision makers and important internal constituents in the organization.”

Well, I could not have said that better myself. That statement alone really made me stop and think about how well I do this in my work, and how my teams understand the value of facilitating understanding in all of their communications. Definitely an area that warrants focus, and the unwavering drive of continuous improvement. Also from that interview:

“The reason that a designer ends up being the facilitator is because all those same skills that we’ve cultivated – in empathy, in listening, in observation, in synthesis, in actually creating tangible artifacts that people can reference and discuss – all of those same skills that we would use in a user-centered perspective, if we pivot 180 degrees and then look at the business and look at the team, we can use that same skill set and many of the same methods to facilitate a consensus and get people talking from their different frames of reference so that they can actually articulate what’s important to them.”

Definitely food for thought.

The image above is from Hugh MacLeod at … whose apartment was flooded last week during the torrential rains in London. I cannot imagine dealing with that hassle.

One Response to “Getting To Where We Need To Go… Really Need To Go”

  1. The Demise of The Tastemaker - schneiderism Says:

    [...] of this is to say that process, which I have posted about before, should suddenly take precedence over individual inspiration. It is that the complexity of [...]

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