I’m curious about everyone’s thought about design as democracy vs. dictatorship, particularly in corporate design environments, where designers sit as a member of a core team of other disciplines involved in product development.
I was intrigued to see Brett Lovelady of ASTRO recently say in FastCompany:
- EMPOWER individual creativity. We’ve all heard the term “design by committee” or possibly the old maxim that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. And I strongly agree. It’s very difficult to create groupthink around multiple points of view. It’s great to voice them, collect them and prioritize them, but to avoid camels, > I recommend empowering one ultimate individual > you trust to become the director and keeper of the vision. Empowering individual creativity also ensures a higher level of passion, focus, commitment and ownership for the results.
- DESIGN is not a democracy. Democracies are fine, mainly for collecting diverse input. But they can kill design. Often too many opinions water down the clarity of the design intent. I’ve had many clients where there are way too many brilliant people involved in programs. They find it their duty to provide all the alternative solutions or insights to every program–always broadening the thinking–instead of focusing on decision-making. > If not for the benevolent dictatorship of the program director in these programs, they would never reach the goal. Design requires focused leadership, not democratic consensus> .
And Don Norman saying the same thing:
Peter Merholz: What does an organization need to succeed in delivering good design if they donâ€™t have that kind of executive mandate or engagement or is it simply not possible?
Don Norman: I think itâ€™s not possible. I think in the end > you need a design dictator> , someone who has good focus, who knows what this product is to be about and refuses to allow distractions to change the product. It doesnâ€™t matter if someone supposed, â€œOh, thatâ€™s really a neat thing to add to the product.â€ If it doesnâ€™t fit the model, it doesnâ€™t go in, so you need somebody strong and with good taste that understands the vision but then has the managerial authority to make it stick. That person has to have the support of the higher management. So, ideally, that person should be higher management.