Design or Get Off the Pot

Bryan wrote on December 27, 2016. It has Reactions

Designers, it's time to elevate our game or get off the pot. Yes, I'm telling designers to step up. Because I'm not seeing it happen. What I see now are scared designers afraid to make decisions on behalf of their organizations. Creators and craftsmen struggling to tell other people what works best, and it's putting their own future along with their organization's in jeopardy.

Everyone wants the benefits that come along with authority and influence, but most don't want what inevitably follows: the responsibility of decision making. Making decisions all day requires tremendous amounts of mental energy. Sometimes it's not fun and it can be scary. These feelings, combined with impostor syndrome, put doubt into the heads of designers about whether they have authority to even make a decision. The ease of passing a decision on to someone else has kept many designers in perpetua...

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You're Design Thinking Too Much

Bryan wrote on December 13, 2016. It has Reactions

A few years ago, a piece I wrote about design thinking totally exploded. It was pretty surprising because it wasn't one of those 'Unlock the power of design in your company' posts, it was all about how confusing and meaningless 'design thinking' has become. Near blasphemy for a design leader (and former employee of IDEO) like myself to say, right? It's not that I don't believe in the methods espoused by design thinking... it's that much of what people focus on is the 'thinking.' My issue is that designers spend too much time thinking about problems and enthusiastically proclaim they are using design thinking as if that has somehow done something. Folks, most thinking is waste of time and doesn't produ...

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Swing and a Miss

Bryan wrote on December 07, 2016. It has Reactions

Wooooosh. That was the sound of a 68 MPH fast ball as it sailed over the middle of the plate, past my bat, and straight into the catcher's mitt. It was my first plate appearance in a regional Little League game and I had just struck out. With a lump in my throat, I began my walk back to the dugout, thirty seconds that felt like an eternity. My ego was bruised and I had let my team down.

As the game went on though, I realized I wasn't alone. I watched as each of my buddies faced similar fates. Our whole team went down swinging... everyone except Brian Goosey that is. In the last inning, he connected, sending the ball straight into stands for a home run and giving us a 1-0 game win keeping our hopes alive to reach the Little League World Series. It only took one swing to erase the goose egg that stood on the scoreboard. One swing to win the game.

Babe Ruth sitting on a bench with kids

Striking out is just part of the process

We learn the sting of failure early in life. You'd think it would get easier ...

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The Mighty Pixel

Bryan wrote on November 07, 2016. It has Reactions

A recent article by Dan Saffer has shed light on a huge shift in the curriculum design schools are teaching. In many design programs around the world, there is less focus being placed on pixelpushing and more emphasis on strategy and 'big system changes'. After a decade of trying to get designers to think beyond their craft and onto the bigger organizational problems that will truly propel design forward, these ideas are finally making their way into design education' and this is horrible.

Now anyone who's kept up with our thinking over the last two years may be doing a bit of a double take at that last sentence right. We've been exhorting design leaders to stretch themselves, to go beyond just being masters of their craft and start embracing organizational challenges and take ownership of business outcomes. These are the type of design leaders that will advance our industry and bring about real impact, the ones that take on these problems and ...

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The Perversion of Beautiful Design

Bryan wrote on November 01, 2016. It has Reactions

Renaissance of Design

Design is having its renaissance moment. The recent rise in design awareness over the last decade has been exciting and much of this is driven by online products and services becoming more mainstream. People are under it's spell, captivated by its charms. But while demand is strong, we also have to sort through all the problems that come with any new movement. This takes time.

Over the past couple years I've written a lot about the struggles design needs to overcome in spite of all this new found attention. The recent rise of design has designers very much in the hot seat, not in a seat at the business table. In my conversations with design and business leaders there's a general underlying problem brewing as designers continue to strut their way into the business problems without a clue of how to truly shape their organizations. Many designers with fancy new titles are finding themselves floundering. They've spent their entire lives mastering t...

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Think Different(ly)

Bryan wrote on October 28, 2016. It has Reactions

Apple's Think Different Ad Campaign

It was 1997 and Steve Jobs was in the beginning of plotting a resurrection of Apple. 'We're back' was the advertising campaign that would kick it all off. Only Steve realized that the Apple board's approval of this campaign would be a complete disaster. They weren't back. It wouldn't be for another year that the iMac revolution would kick off the most amazing hit parade of products that were ever produced.

Steve pushed and prodded to change the ad that eventually gave way to one of the most iconic ad campaigns ever created- 'The Crazy Ones'. It was a beautiful tribute to those that dared to change the world, to Think Different. Apple would be 'back', only he didn't have to say it, he could show it. It wasn't a directive, it was a challenge for the company. The ad created a stage for the company to surprise and delight its fans. There was no mention of products and it made no direct reference to Steve's return. From the board'...

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How Steve Jobs Harnessed the Rule of Thirds

Bryan wrote on October 25, 2016. It has Reactions

Last week, I shared a story about an encounter I had with Steve Jobs and broke down some of the tactics of Steve the 'showman' used to dazzle us at each new Apple event. But the most interesting parts of Steve are the ones that existed between the product launches. The 'design leader' is the Steve I'm most interested in, the man that could effectively drive innovation and move his organization forward.

People often poke fun of what they saw as Steve 'the dictator.' This comic by Manu Cornet does a great job of representing the different styles of leadership practiced by the tech giants. Steve is appropriately represented by the big red dot below:

A Comic Representation of the Leadership in the Major Tech CompaniesThe leadership structure of today's big tech companies by Manu Cornet

But there's more to Steve's leadership, and this comic, than meet...

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The End of the Black Turtleneck

Bryan wrote on October 20, 2016. It has Reactions

I was mingling with a few guests at a small wedding some years ago. It was a slightly overcast day in the California mountains, but the venue had beautiful views that overlooked the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Quite stunning. The guests were arriving and casually streaming into the reception area when I happened to catch a glimpse of a pair of gray New Balance sneakers. My first thought was, 'Who wears sneakers to a wedding!?!' To top it off, this guy was wearing blue jeans, and not the slim stylish kind either. Dad jeans.

As I grabbed my own uncomfortable neckline, I became slightly annoyed that this guest had considered a jacket and coat optional. In Silicon Valley, casual is the norm, but this gentleman had taken it to another level at a wedding. And then it hit me as I stared at this gaunt man with his frameless glasses and black mock turtleneck. This was Steve Jobs.

Steve, the Design Messiah

After getting over the absurdity of his wedding outfit, I couldn't help but reflect on the pure dedicatio...

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Everyone is a Designer

Bryan wrote on September 01, 2015. It has 208 Reactions

Since our humble beginnings in 1998, we've considered our customers and employees integral parts of our success as a company. No matter their job title or role, we consider all of them designers. They've helped us build an amazing company and consistently focused us on designing great products and services. Our recent ZURB Wired is a fantastic example of teams coming together to design amazing results.

In our fourth principle of Progressive Design, Everyone is a Designer, we explain why everyone can do this. When we interact with clients, students in our classes, or others, we work hard to get them to understand how to contribute feedback on visual ideas, to build off those ideas, and then to own them and carry them on into their everyday practices. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing a former client voluntarily explore five ideas to gather feedback instead of just building the first one!

Over the next few weeks, we'll share all seven principles ...

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Iteration Builds Momentum

Bryan wrote on August 11, 2015. It has 225 Reactions

Last year we set out to challenge what people believed to be Design Thinking. Since then we committed ourselves to defining a design methodology that pulled from our two decades of design knowledge. We realized that the lessons and methods we discovered since our beginnings in 1998 would make it easier for millions of designers to take advantage of our insights and help their design teams create more value in their organizations. We found that in Progressive Design.

We've defined two principles of Progressive Design- Design for Influence and Lead by Design. In this blog post, we define our third principle, Iteration Builds Momentum. Design is a balance of doing, presenting, collecting feedback and collaborating with teams to push ideas forward. Great design happens when we build momentum with rapid design iterations.

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