Design Principle 3 — Solving Problems & What Managers can learn

Reynolds: “Solving problems is what designers do.”

 They solve problems or otherwise take the current situation and try to make it a better one.

There are four important things managers can learn from designers:

1) Embrace restraints.

Designers are all about working with restraints (time, budget, location, materials). Identify your limitations and then create not the perfect solution, but the best solution given the restraints. If you can do it with less, why add more?

2. Take a risk.

Change does not happen without taking some chances. Designers are comfortable with the notion that they might be wrong, but still they experiment and try new approaches.

3. Question everything.

Answers are important, of course, but first come the questions. Designers are used to asking myriad questions that may lead to the right question — which will lead to the right answer.

4. It’s not about tools, it’s about ideas.

Designers from various fields spend a lot of time away from new technology tools, using pencil and paper to sketch out their ideas.


Duarte: “The primary principles of design are eminently transferable to management. They aren’t just visual guides but guides to a state of being that makes sense for institutions of all types.”

Hierarchy brings order and meaning to messages and organizations alike. Just as employees need to identify who is leading, audiences need to come away from your communications with a clear understanding of what’s most important. If there’s confusion about who is in charge or the order of steps that must be taken, it can increase the chance of failure.
Balance is the deliberate arrangement or weighting of elements on the page, stage, screen or in an organization. That does not mean all things must be in balance all the time. It is often effective to jar people and thereby effect a change in behavior or thought. Be aware, though, that once something has been thrown out of balance, it is the nature of the universe to find a new state of equilibrium.
Contrast focuses attention or highlights differences. Contrast requires context: We can present
a new vision of the future and contrast it with the status quo, but we must adequately explain the benefits, challenges and opportunities inherent in the change. The value of contrast lies neither in the black nor the white, but in the tension between them.

Clear space, oft maligned, is one of the most important elements of design. We want to utilize all our resources, not “waste” space, time or talent by leaving them unused. But what happens when we use things to 100% of their capacity? When a desk is 100% covered with papers, it is no longer a useful space. When people are kept busy 100% of the time, no time is available for generating new ideas.
Harmony brings together hierarchy, balance, contrast and clear space in a meaningful way. Harmony happens when a vision is agreed upon, communicated well and acted on with conviction.


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