Always Pushing

I’m not a pushy person… really! I tend to be a wimp and want to avoid conflict. Sometimes this “personality trait” is a tremendous weakness; and other times it is helpful. However, here at S&P, I can’t afford to succumb to this personality trait and I feel like I am constantly “pushing” the people around me.

Part of a designer’s job is to compromise; on just about every design decision, there is the weight of meeting business objectives, working with technical limitations, having limited resources and working in the confines of proficiency–which all limit the product of design. The designer’s job is to work within these constraints. The difference between a designer and an artist is that a designer knows when to compromise because without compromise, design becomes strictly art.

Here at S&P, they aren’t accustomed to having a designer as part of product development. They are happy doing everything, and it can be difficult to let go of some things. I think some might have the false belief that they weren’t doing design before and now they are, and therefore, my presence is an addition to their process. However, there is no such thing as “no design”–all products are designed. The reality is that my presence is a subtraction of old processes and additions of new processes in their place.

It is difficult for human nature to let go of responsibility and to delegate, or “let go” in order to improve the outcome. (I don’t have empirical proof of this, just a designer’s intuition.) So I feel like I am always pushing the team to let go of old processes and adopt new ones. The design outcome is diminished, and I happen to think this team is capable of so much more, so I must constantly push the team to build a better UI.

If the “perfect” UI is measured by 100%, then since my arrival, this team has built a UI at about 25% (in my humble estimation) which is better than 5%, 10%, or even 24%. But, we still have 75% to go and my only choice is to constantly push for more design.

Obviously for me, pushing like this is emotionally difficult and “draining.” There are times that I want to just cave and go with the flow, but then the outcome wouldn’t improve. So, I am “always pushing” and I’m sure my presence is sometimes felt as a tedious annoyance. I am taking away responsibilities and shifting power. It isn’t comfortable, but necessary in order to create products that are truly delightful for users to experience.

So, this post is my apology and plea combined. Apology for always pushing and a plea to join me in always pushing.