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Five Dangerous Ideas For Designers


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There are truths about how the world works that creatives don’t like to talk about. We get angry and frustrated when we’re not granted the power we think we deserve, but there are often good reasons the world works ‘against us.’ This talk takes these ideas head on, from how power truly works, to our unavoidable dependence on salesmanship skills, so we can convert them from frustrations into practical behaviors for empowerment and achieving our dreams at work.

Published in: Design, Technology
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  • @berkun I agree with all of that Scott and I do like the other points you make in your presentation, especially the 'These things ARE selling activities.' In my comment I was merely doing the YES, AND extension on your first point that especially resonated with me. :)
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  • I certainly agree with much of what you've written here. And the aim of your book is certainly a good one.

    The argument I make in the presentation itself is largely about power. If you don't have the power to make design decisions then perhaps what the organization is telling you as that to be a designer, you have to take on the role of being a team leader, and not being specialized anymore.

    Few designers want to do this. I understand that. But then there is a trap: the power structure has defined one role for what design is, and the designer wants a different one. The designer won't win that battle.

    The only other alternative is to become savvy about power and influence and to commit oneself to salesmanship and persuasion as essential skills.

    More than anything else I was hoping to express the fact that designers are already very good design - focusing their education on design skills won't have as much value towards their ambitions as learning skills not typically seen as design skills.
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  • '1. Everyone is a designer' is very true.

    This resonates loudly with me. As we move from childhood to become adults and then specialized contributors we become less courageous. We no longer host the most excellent tea parties or build the best tree forts. Instead, most people become specialized and passive while critical of other designs. In Edward de Bono's 6 Hats thinking we don the black hat, begin judging, and seek comfort there. We no longer shape the conversation or participate meaningfully in design, especially if its not in our title. An accountant might put a pencil in their hair bun as you show in your slides, but in the workplace this same person may be silent and feel out of place when it comes to the design of the experiences their customers have. Few accountants would consider themselves contributing to an organization's innovation culture or delivering great experiences for customers. This is true of people in other roles as well. This doesn't make for a better organization, customer experience or world. But, we don't have to accept this.We can change the conversation.

    In my book, I aim to give people more confidence in tapping their inner designer, no matter their actual title or role. My book, 'The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations' is about making the invisible visible, giving people new eyes and mental models to intentionally design new experiences or reinvigorate old ones. But, beyond that it is also about making those new visions a reality, swimming upstream in your own organization or navigating a business landscape and marketplace that thinks it is doing just fine without you and your new vision. GDP and the stock market are up, but most everything else is down. We can do better and 'ordinary' people need to once again, tap their inner designer, with the confidence they had as children.

    A lack of civic engagement, has afforded special interests groups power and control to push their narrow agenda as opposed to an agenda that is more human centric. I like that you've put this presentation out there Scott, but I think more danger lies in the fact that most people have given up their inner designer and left that 'duty' and conversation to specialized roles. We live in a world full of broken experiences. Everybody needs to play their part in fixing this, designers, creatives, accountants, developers, business leaders, etc. That will require new thinking, new mental models, and most of all, new conversation.
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Five Dangerous Ideas For Designers

  1. 1. Five Dangerous Ideas @berkun
  2. 2. 1. Everyone is a designer
  3. 3. Thoughtless Acts?, By Jane Fulton Suri
  4. 4. “Rats. My client thinks he is a designer. “ He is a designer, just an extremely bad one.
  5. 5. Designers are ambassadors for good ideas Good designers are the only mentors for bad designers
  6. 6. 2. You have no power
  7. 7. What decisions are completely yours? Artist / Designer / Advisor / Lackey
  8. 8. `
  9. 9. If you have little territory, fortifying it buys you nothing
  10. 10. Whoever uses the most jargon has the least confidence in their ideas
  11. 11. Power can be: A. Granted B. Earned C. Claimed
  12. 12. 3. The generalists are in charge
  13. 13. If there are more than 5 people in the room, you have less power than you think
  14. 14. In room power vs. Out of room power
  15. 15. What is the culture’s appetite for change? - Margaret Stewart, YouTube
  16. 16. Ownership Accountability Involvement How much of yourself will you put behind your own ideas?
  17. 17. 4. We work in sales (regardless of your job title)
  18. 18. Everyone has to pitch ideas
  19. 19. Surprise: these are sales tasks •  Prototyping •  Pitching •  Evangelizing •  Going to meetings run by someone else •  Asking for resources •  Giving presentations •  Growing influence
  20. 20. “Talk to people you don’t like” - Samantha Starmer, REI Secret: we got into tech, so we can work with software, instead of all the people we don’t like
  21. 21. If people think you are smart and useful your job title is irrelevant
  22. 22. If people think you are dumb and useless your job title is irrelevant
  23. 23. 5. Creativity is Risk
  24. 24. Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  25. 25. Who will: -  Ask the tough question -  Do the extra work -  Be willing to fail, and learn -  Put their reputation on the line -  Commit to a big crazy idea
  26. 26. Photo Credits •  Stove: •  Various, Thoughtless Acts?, Jane Fulton Suri •  Sales : _sun-27Dec2008.jpg •  Maginot Line: •  Masada night - •  Bunker: •  Masada above - •  Masada map - •  museum 1 - •  Museum 2 - group=22&lang=en&temp=crystal&id=9 •  Museum - contemporary-art-ica.html
  27. 27. Thank you. Five Dangerous Ideas @berkun •  Everyone is a designer •  You have (no) power •  Generalists are in charge •  You are a salesperson •  Creativity is risk
  28. 28. Photo Credits •  Wrong way: •  Stove: •  Various, Thoughtless Acts?, Jane Fulton Suri •  Sales : _sun-27Dec2008.jpg •  Maginot Line: •  SPL 4th floor: •  SPL Escalator, •  Jargon List: Blue Flavor •  Bunker: