Over the years I’ve worked with a myriad of different people in various situations. In all these situations I’ve reflected on what I could have done better and what my team members or counterparts could have improved. Often, lack of skills and experience are not the causes of a poorly executed project. When hashing out the details of a design it is often the creative aspect of the project that endures the most heated discussions and scrutiny. Ultimately, on person has either been designated or defaulted has the one with creative control — the approving voice of the design aesthetic. Here are some behaviours that you should be mindful of when selecting this person:
1. The Fixer-Upper
This is the person that has a compulsive need to change, tweak, and change for no good reason. While they may be helpful in polishing the fine details near the end of a project, assigning creative control from the start will usually mean a never-ending tug-of-war. Designer burn-out is inevitable.
2. The Style Snob
They usually believe they have a design/fashion/artistic/creative sense and it’s possible they actually do. However, they end up putting too much focus on the aesthetic aspect of design and not enough on functional, goal-oriented effectiveness. The product may be highly visual and possibly even interesting to look at, but not very persuasive or practical.
3. The Scrambled Egg
They are disorganized, flaky, and will easily bend the truth to save face. They are not punctual, miss meetings, and continually break promises. Their lives are a whirlwind of ideas and activities — projects that start with fanfare and end a slow, painful death. While this person has great ideas and enthusiasm, the follow-through just isn’t there.
These descriptions are not intended to categorize people, but rather to name certain tendencies and behaviours that can impede the progress of your design process. While one might think these would only apply to those on the client side of a project but I’ve seen these tendencies in both clients and designers. These are things you need to look out for when deciding who should champion your next design project or who should be the real designer.
It can be frustrating when self-glorification or control issues are prioritized over teamwork; it is vitally important that the project comes first and ambition takes a backseat.
Take a moment to reflect on a recent project you worked on with others. Whether or not you had creative control, what could you have done differently to work better with others?