10 January 2007

Building a killer team for innovation part (4 of 6)

Clients. Most every designer I have worked with wants to be in the meetings with clients. Every designer should have the tools necessary to do exactly that. Unfortunately many designers do not. A designer must embrace the client’s goals as criteria of the project, not a problem to work around. We are not artist and our vision as designers should always consider, if not come second to that of the client.

Designers must also be able to communicate their ideas. Presentation skill is critical. The designer must be able to communicate ideas to business people. Further, designers need to learn business speak. They do not have to be MBA’s, but they do need to command the respect of business people and I cannot stress enough the importance of speaking their language. This is a major omission of nearly every undergraduate design program in America.

Lastly, while designers must be passionate about their work, they must be able to separate themselves emotionally from their work – for a couple of reasons. First, a designer has to be able to “kill their babies”. We all get obsessed with a cool solution. Our obsessions can become a huge hurdle in moving forward to a better solution. When you come across an epiphany mark it and work through it. You will be surprised at how great the next idea or five may be. Another problem with our “babies” is that in critical evaluation they are not so much aligned with the client’s goals as they are with our own. Secondly, a good client will ruthlessly challenge you ideas and supporting rational. This can crush an emotionally attached designer. I have even encountered clients that do not want the designer n the presentation for just this reason.