…there is a consistent unfair competitive advantage I’ve witnessed when the talent stack was collapsed – when the lead designer was also the product leader, when the front-end engineer was also a designer, when the designer is also a great copywriter, when the product leader was also the founder/CEO, etc. Tighter conduits for decision making and synthesizing information are an incredible advantage when it comes to crafting products.
In a world where the many parts of a product experience have collapsed into each other, the organization that builds these experiences should follow suit. The old days of having a product marketer work in a different organization with a copywriter, having a separate general marketing team build campaigns for the product, and having a separate set of product leaders and designers and engineers in yet another part of an organization building the product…well, it just doesn’t make sense. But this is the way most established organizations run. To accommodate the new world, companies have layered in more people and processes to serve as the connective tissue between all of these functions. As a result, we get more Product Managers, Program Managers, and games of operator with additional people required to coordinate across functions. What is liable to get lost in the mix? Vision. Clarity. Simplicity. The value of design. Shortcuts to decisiveness. The product ends up looking like the org.
While we debate about how much power AI will give or take away from us, there seems to be a widely held view that our future will be more and more automated. I just hope we realize somewhere along the way that human interaction – no matter how tedious it may feel in contrast to a perfectly optimized digital experience – is not just a prerequisite for a functioning society but a life worth living.
I don’t think inspiration is something you passively receive. I’m always looking—everywhere. And there are certain kinds of visual acts which I’m always hoping to stumble upon. Unusual juxtapositions, surprising color combinations, new modes of visual expression…I am always interested by anything graphical that strikes me as (this is difficult to put into words) excitingly wrong. There is a cool-factor to certain images that lie just on this side of disagreeable…pictorial effects that make me think “this will bother a lot of unimaginative people.” Whenever I see something like that, a piece of art or graphic design that has that special kind of wrongness about it, I think “I need to do something like this myself.”
I can go play soccer on a Sunday morning and hang out with people from different races and different class backgrounds, and we can bond. But I’m not doing that with my grandparents and my grandchildren. A soccer team can’t provide spiritual solace in the face of death, it probably doesn’t have a weekly charitable call and there’s no sense of connection to a heritage that goes back generations. You can get bits and pieces of these disparate qualities elsewhere, he said, but there’s no “one-stop shop” — at least not right now.
Monbiot points out that only 1% of human land use is attributable to our cities, industries and infrastructure. Farming occupies 38% of all land on the planet, but of those 38%, only 6% is used to feed people directly. The rest is used by pasture-fed livestock or for crops to feed livestock. He calls this ‘agricultural sprawl’: vast areas of land used to produce small amounts of food.
When everyone on a project is choosing their styles from a curated set of limited options, your CSS stops growing linearly with your project size, and you get consistency for free.
The danger in prototyping too soon is investing resources in answering a question no one asked, and ignoring the opportunity cost. Testing a prototype can help you refine an idea that is already good, not tell you whether you’re solving the right problem. And it’s easy to mistake the polish of a prototype for the quality of the idea. FWIW, it’s also easy to mistake the gloss of a research report for the value of the insights.
So why then, when we boot up our computers and smartphones, are we forced to organize everything under a system designed for everyone? Just imagine if all of your furniture was bolted down to a neat grid, or the different rooms in your home were organized by brand instead of purpose!
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.