Design by Committee

Why it's ineffective and the alternative.

June 4, 2020

I had a call with a prospective client yesterday looking to get some collateral made for their company. During our call it became clear that there were going to be multiple people making the decisions and signing off on creative.

It's not like it was just two people either, hell it wasn't even four. On this project, there would be eight people that would have to look at this an approve it. Eight!

That's a lot of cooks. Respectfully, I said that it doesn't work out well to design by committee and that it didn't sound like it would be a good fit. They agreed and we got off the call.

Here is why design by committee is a bad idea: vanilla ice cream.

Allow me to explain, there are hundreds of unique ice cream flavors. From cookies and cream, mint and chip, rainbow sherbet, Ben and Jerry's Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Cookie Dough (my personal favorite), or even ice cream with candied grasshoppers. These flavors are memorable, whether you like them or not, because they have elements of distinction.

Now imagine you have eight different people in a room and you try and get them to agree on one flavor. Fat chance.

You will end up with choosing vanilla because it's good enough to do the job and it won't upset anyone. But it's not going to turn heads like the others. What's more is that if one person decided on getting a unique ice cream flavor, like cookies and cream, I doubt anyone would be morbidly detested by the choice. It's ice cream for Pete's sake.

Same thing with design. As long as you follow the basic principles, it's difficult to arrive at a detestable solution. It's well designed, that's what matters.

The alternative is this: understand that you aren't building something for yourself, you are building something for someone else. Be it investors, customers, whomever it is, build for them.

Next, establish one decision maker. Someone who can be trusted to make a good decision and let them do their job.

Do not design by committee.

More you say?

The Creative Curse

Creatives, entrepreneurs, and startup founder beware.

5.13.2020

Creative minds, though responsible for new ideas and solving big problems, have a huge shadow: the inability to give those new ideas time. This is especially true in branding. It's almost inevitable that after going through a new brand identity, strategy, etc, the desire to change will pop up. A new idea will strike and it must manifest or it will go away.

But int he context of branding, assuming you do a good job, you have to resist. Branding is something that should remain consistent and be given its due before making massive overhauls.

Commons areas where this desire arises:

  • Expanding target markets
  • Redoing the the name or logo
  • Expanding a color palette
  • Adding new typefaces

Look, these things might need to change, but if you have to let them settle before you can make an informed decision as to whether or not they need to change. This doesn't mean you can't change small things, like experimenting with new ads, altering your layouts, running A/B tests, but it should all cohere to the strategy you are trying to implement.

Point being: resist your creative impulses to start something new before your previous task has been finished and given time to rest.

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Sloth Shit

Time spent does not equate to value produced.

6.8.2020

After 23 trials and test results, the Sloth Sanctuary concluded that sloths take an average of 16 days to fully digest food and rid itself of food waste. 16 full days is the same as 384 hours, 9.6 work weeks, or two working months to produce shit.

I'm currently reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. He talks about one of his first ventures and that they had spent six months working on a product that no one liked. No one knew how to use it, what good it did, or why they should buy it. Without mincing words: it was shit. It earned no money and it didn't help anyone.

What's the point?

It doesn't matter how long something took to make and how much effort you've put into it, if it's not useful to anyone, it's shit.

The remedy? Make something useful for someone and find out early whether or not it has value.

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