Worth Sharing This Week

Sorry UX, the party’s over.
If you’re one of those individuals that believes UX is doing fine, fantastic. You do you and be happy. You can stop reading now. Everything will be fine.

The Three Words that  Lead to Better Decisions
When you focus on process, you concentrate on doing instead of becoming. You create beneficial habits instead of chasing goals — goals that tend to lead to short-term thinking and even motivate some people to lie and cheat.

Personal Kanban: A Tactile To-Do List to Make You a Project Management Pro
Managing your projects effectively (and efficiently) as a freelancer is incredibly important. There’s no denying that how much you can get done directly affects how much you can earn.

The Shoulders We Stand On Modern design, the birth of the social sector, and where we go from here.
We’re at an unprecedented moment for design and the social sector. The energy and vigor we see in the alliance of these two sectors is propelled by a bold history of pushing and blurring boundaries. However we know we can see further because of the shoulders we stand on. On the day of IDEO.org’s seventh birthday, we give you a brief history of where we came from and where we hope to go.

This Successful CEO Proves That Artists Make Better Entrepreneurs
No need to keep your arts background a secret. This entrepreneur shows why you should be celebrating both arts and business.

Off-Mic with Masterful Marketers: How Ann Handley Does Great Work
For most of us, creativity and productivity are at the opposite ends of the work spectrum. Sometimes it seems like the two work at cross purposes. Either you’re lost in meditative thought, creating up a storm, or you’re nose-to-the-grindstone busy.

Young Designers Ask Questions—Mariel Lustig and Michael Bierut
In this series, SEGD connects young designers with the design leaders they admire so they can ask their burning questions and find answers to help guide them on their career path. In this article, current University of Cincinnati DAAP student Mariel Lustig interviews Michael Bierut, partner at Pentagram (New York).

Marty Neumeier
In this edition we have a designer interview with Marty Neumeier who attended Art Center College of Design from 1967 to 1969. For 15 years he worked in advertising and brand design, as a communication designer and writer in Southern California. In 1984 he moved to Silicon Valley to work with clients such as Adobe, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Symantec. By 1998 his firm Neumeier Design Team created retail packaging for software products, including Filemaker, Norton Antivirus, Apple system software, and HP LaserJet. During this time he served as a contributing editor for the magazine Communication Arts.

The end of ads 
Advertising is obsolete, writes University of Kentucky’s Ramsi Woodcock. Here’s why it’s time to end it.

Stop Spending So Much Time In Your Head

Crazy Dream

As of this writing, 10 millions views since the ad broke last night.


So I have seen the ad, all two minutes and five seconds of it. Same messaging you always get from Nike: Hard to argue with, nice sentiments, blah blah blah. Until you get to the spokesman.

Yes, you have this figure that “gave up everything” to pursue something crazy. Something he believed in. But let’s put this in context:

Kaepernick “sacrificed” his NFL career? Hardly! He lost his job because he sucked – he couldn’t make the cut in the NFL. Had he not pulled this stunt, he would already be long forgotten. And that’s where this ad goes off the rails.

If Serena or LeBron, mentioned in the ad, sacrificed their career to pursue something bigger than themselves, something extremely difficult but an idea they believed so passionately about that they had to choose between the belief and their career, then that would be a brilliant ad.

Think about Patrick Tillman, who gave up his NFL career to go do something incredibly hard, and paid the ultimate price for following that idea when he died in Afghanistan.

THAT is a crazy dream, one I CAN believe in. One I can respect.

Kaepernick is a punk, who a savvy group of writers wrote some beautiful words to put into his mouth. Talk about inauthentic.


Don’t Do It

I go to great lengths to not be political with my blog. There are many issues I feel quite passionate about and a blog is a perfect place for me to express my views, but I choose not to.

The reason is simple: This is a blog about ideas on branding and marketing, creativity, leadership and design. The last thing I want to do is run people off, start an argument or open myself up for attack. The very last thing I want to do is polarize and piss off potential readers.

Pissing people off should not be the purpose of an ad campaign, but that is exactly what Nike has done this week. In one fell swoop, they’ve taken their brand to a whole new level, and depending on who you ask, it is either elevated to new heights or plopped in the toilet.

If you’ve read other posts of mine, you have seen me call into question the validity of brands taking on social issues. Making commentary and judgements on the morals of those who do not believe like some corporate giant is just plain wrong. I am 100% a believer in free speech, and I do not want to tell any media department how to spend their money, but this move certainly cannot be good for business.

Especially for a company like Nike who in the past has been accused of all kinds of heinous acts.

If you are a for-profit enterprise with shareholders to answer to, you are irresponsible for picking a side in an argument. By taking a side you are consciously choosing to alienate the other side. That’s bad for business, and you’re in business to make money, not political statements.

Full disclosure: I have been a fan and ardent defender of Nike for years. As noted, Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog was one of my favorite books. I’ve run in various Nike’s for years. And I have always loved the notion (because it’s more than a slogan) of Just Do It. Not so much any more. I will not be burning my running shoes, shorts and such. But if they are trying to create change, they’ve done it. I won’t support them any longer.

Thoughts and Actions on Organizing the Org

In my current role with Sysco, I am in the midst of building out a design organization. We are rounding up designers from all over the company, and country, to assemble them into a single unit. Controlling costs is one reason, another is to help protect the brand and identity guidelines. This reorg started well over a year ago and the company got to a point where it needed some help to finish. That’s where I came in. Today I’m celebrating my 60th day on the job, and wanting to share some learnings:

The great philosopher, Hugh MacLeod recently noted that “Humans do not scale” in response to a quip I tweeted out a week or so ago. He could not be more right. People do not scale, but in order for the organization to grow, it has to be able to scale.

Artwork used with permission by the artist. Thanks, Hugh!

The tweet was my reaction to a comment one of my coworkers made while we were defining roles and responsibilities for the designers to follow when purchasing stock images through our new enterprise license.

I made some fields on the request form mandatory – things like the project owner’s name, a project number and the like. She felt that even though inputting this small amount of info did not take much time, it nonetheless requires the designers to eat up a little more time. I understand that many of the designers previously had access to their own license, which allowed them to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. According to my coworker, this little extra effort was too much to ask.

I said they would do it and I am unbending on this issue.

Another great philospher once said “The big picture is made of of millions of tiny details.” I actually tweeted that out a few months ago, thinking that someone much smarter than me must have said it already, but I haven’t found a source yet. (It’s a great saying.)

Those tiny details are the things that will enable the organization to have the ability to grow and thrive. Tiny details like metadata may not seem terribly important today, but it will become a huge issue in the coming months and years as more distance is put between the designer and their project. A good memory will only get you so far.

Getting out of that “me” mindset and into an “us” mindset is one of the central challenges to make this effort succeed. For anyone undertaking a reorg like this, I recommend reading Todd Henry’s Herding Tigers, as he hits the nail squarely on the head.

Scaling up is not easy. It requires you to keep one eye on the current bevy of projects and clients while the other keeps looking ahead to the future. This is probably the hardest part of the reorg – managing the change.

The group has to find ways to strike a balance that ensures current customers are happy while going through the change. Customers are not always receptive to change. Go figure. They’re looking out for their projects and have little concern for the future state you are working on, no matter how much it may benefit them.

You can’t just go into work everyday and just do your job. Do the work. You have to always be thinking three steps ahead, about processes and procedures. This is how you and your team will work. This is no easy feat. Nor is it fun.

Building an organization is not easy. Of course, as with everything in life, you have to work for the things that are worthing having. That’s what I tell my kids all the time.