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Design (like love) is blind

Every recent parent will think that their baby is the most beautiful, we’ve all seen it or even experienced it firsthand. That is cool and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but that doesn’t necessarily make it true.

This might ring a bell with some of you. We have all been in similar situations with friends, the stock market et cetera.

Only a few weeks ago two guys approached our consultancy for help on presenting their business plan to possible future investors. They have been working on their idea for about 3 years and finally want to put together their perfect pitch that will convince future investors to finance their brainchild. Despite having been approached by them, the guys were reluctant to accept any of the advice we gave them. Any proposals to distinguish them from competitors were too far out and every simplification of their content was leaving out crucial information. It was as if a patient came to a doctor saying “I’m sick. Cure me, but you can’t touch me.”

You don’t have to be a doctor to see that the problem with such a patient is on a psychological level. And so did I with our client, until…

I found myself hesitant to call this girl I am interested in to ask her for her plans for Friday night. Just like that, à la “before making the wrong move, make no move at all”. I realized how easy it is to chat up girls that you have no infatuation with and how hard it suddenly gets to be spontaneous and come up with clever sentences when you deal with someone you really care about.

The same thing seems to apply when you deal with something you really care about. Do we make better products when we care less? Does it not matter how much we care about the product as long as we care about design as the underlying virtue?

This also explains an important aspect of why the Yves’, Karims and Philippes of this world are so successful. All their judgments are snap-judgments. Changes do not equal work or commitment and so they command whatever has to change until a product is close to being perfect. It’s easy for Yves Behar to sit in a meeting, saying that what he is being shown is crap and his designers should go and do better because he did not invest the time, more importantly, he did not invest soul and heart. He does not care about the product but he cares about design as an underlying virtue.

This is a plea for consultants in both our professional and personal lives, for us as companies or individuals. Assess all options carefully before embarking on one path and stay flexible towards alterations! Trust other people’s judgments, especially if they have no investment of any sort with your project. After all, it’s not their baby they’re looking at and it will be easier for them to objectively tell you what it needs.

Author’s note: After I having spent too much time on this article myself I gave it to my colleague Judith for a thorough revision. Thanks Ju!



Maximilian Kiener . 2012.