Recently, Jonathan Ive, of Apple, had some thoughts on the key to Apple’s success. He bemoaned designers who always have excuses for their work not turning out as intended. His advice:
“If you really do care about the quality of what ends up getting made, wouldn’t you find an answer, some sort of alternative, and somehow figure out a way to take your idea and do something with it?”
I could very easily be pissed off at the naivete of this statement. But it’s not his fault. After all, he works for Apple. Current Apple culture (I’m assuming I know what this is) is built around the quality of the design. This makes it easy for designers to produce quality work and see it executed as designed. The issue is not that in other organizations designers do not care about quality, it’s that most organizations are not designed to produce designs of the highest quality.
Designers the world around complain that their ideas are not implemented due to myriad outside factors. And they complain because it’s true. Whether it’s power or politics, time or resources, designers are not in control of the forces that affect the outcome of the quality work that goes into the products and services they make.
Unfortunately, in their current positions, designers do not have the power to do what Ive suggests: figure out a way to take an idea and do something with it. There is too much working against that, despite passion for quality or a willingness to do something.
Organizations that prohibit great designs from being realized need to be redesigned. That’s right, organizations are design products, and can be designed. Who better than designers to participate in, or perchance lead, this effort?
Perhaps Ive was onto something after all. If the forces at be prevent good design from being realized, and the structure, environment, and culture of organizations are to blame, we need to figure out a way to change the situation. We need to shift our focus from the ends, and refocus on the means that enable design in the first place. We need to redesign organizations.