by John Maeda—I copied this awhile ago and can’t find the link, but it’s too good not to post!
- Designers are often taught to strive for absolute perfection, but the startup world demands shipping fast, often, and imperfectly. Designers traditionally needed to work with “integrity,” which means committing to quality, accountability and authorship. But startups need to move fast and work in rapid iterations to generate actionable data to know how to improve; thus, the mantra we often hear of “ship fast and often.” Designers can choose to embrace the inherent challenge of rapid iteration that startups require, or forego the tech world by designing in traditional media. As the past designer of posters, books, furniture, and other works that I could craft and ship to perfection, I can honestly say that having feet in both worlds of traditional media and digital media is the preferable direction.
- Business decisions drive a startup’s growth by necessity, and the task of managing compromises in a product is often unbearable to a designer. Product sales, costs, and other business considerations all affect the decisions made in startups. And although design’s role in tech is hugely important today, it needs to be seen as one of many factors. As I shared in the 2015 #DesignInTech Report: To achieve great design, you need great business thinking/doing — to effectively invest in design — and you need great engineering — to achieve unflagging performance. Successful designers in startups recognize that compromise is a form of communicating their vital voice alongside other constituents inside the company. They also recognize that the product they’re designing is the startup itself. And thus, if there are no compromises to be made, it is in growing the best company possible that they can successfully and sustainably create the best products.
- Moving from being a hands-on designer to becoming the hands-off leader of designers is a difficult transition to make. The increased need for design to play a larger role in tech companies means that scaling the design function becomes vital. Designers can learn from their engineering leader counterparts who have learned to be comfortable with relinquishing hands-on responsibilities as the startup grows. Their importance doesn’t diminish. It just changes. The same is true for designers who are developing into leaders, and into the emerging elite that can spearhead the challenge of managing increasingly larger design teams.