Stop fitting in, start standing out

This year I was lucky enough to attend the UX Australia 2018 conference. The combination of coffee, sketch notes, and incredible speakers was a real hit. One talk which especially resonated with me was “Creative Clarity in the Midst of Ambiguity” — a dissection of designers, creative culture and the design process. The speaker Jon Kolko simplifies what drives a culture towards creativity and what mentalities can pull it backwards.

Creative clarity grants designers the tools needed to design a product, service, app, or experience, with a little bit of magic. With creative clarity you stop designing products to fit in, you start designing to stand out. These are the 4 principles Jon has outlines that drive towards creative clarity.


Acknowledge Feelings

Hold group critiques.
Collaborate as a team to improve the work as opposed to self-critique which can sometimes lead to designers critiquing themselves and their skills rather than the work.

Build trust.
Create an environment that promotes discussion, collaboration, sharing ideas.

Make team artefacts.
Give a framework for exchanging ideas. An artefact is a negotiation — it can be a design, a video, a sketch or a couple of sentences

Tame ambiguity.

Make a thing.
Create the very first idea, even it’s not always going to be right, clear some of the design fog.

Frame the problem.
Identify the problem we’re trying to solve, and who it’s for.

Articulate constraints.
Help frame the problem by giving it some scaffolding

Let designers run amok.

Let them play.
Give as much freedom as possible. Even if you’re designing to the fullest, if you’re designing within a box, all you’ll end up with is a box. Rules, unlike constraints, destroy creativity.

Remove hierarchy.
Without a pecking order there’s more freedom to share ideas and opinions.

Own the consequences.
As a design leader, take responsibility for the outcomes — the good and the bad.

Drive a vision.

Describe the impact.
Show who our designs are having an effect on and how it’s improving their life

Frame the strategy.
Carve the path towards a finished product.

Tell the story.
From start to finish, show where we’re going from to where we’re going.

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