Great design is tricky. It’s easy to pick apart decisions after an app ships and second-guess its creators. What’s harder — as anyone who has ever created something knows — is being the guy in the room who has to fashion those decisions from whole cloth. Sure, everyone likes to think they have good taste. But the smart ones still hire a designer.
“The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. Pay people enough so that they’re not thinking about the money, they’re thinking about the work.”
I don’t like it, and I don’t do it. Even if it just feels like busy work (i.e. treadmill-style exercise) I can’t bring myself to devote time to it. Why spend all that time and energy to accomplish (effectively) nothing?! As you can imagine, this has left my physicality in slow but steady decline since colllege.
Why college? Because when I wasn’t walking up to 1.5 miles across the UW Madison campus to get to class a few times a day, I worked summers as a residential construction carpenter, and physical exertion (especially in the framing stages) was par for the course. I was in the best shape of my life, and I never even looked at a gym or an elliptical machine.
And now I’m a designer/programmer. I work inside, at a desk, typing and clicking. I exercise my mind like crazy (which is why I continue to be challenged by and enjoy my work), but that doesn’t do much for the love handles.
So I changed the game on myself. Instead of driving or getting a ride into work, I ride my bike (either 4.25 or 9 miles, depending on route chosen). There’s no motivational question of “Why am I doing this?” once you get started; you need to get to work, and this is the means of transportation available.
Also nice is the fact that I live on the eastern shore of the Fox River, and I work a few miles upstream on the west side. Once you start on the trek and decide your path for the day (see map image), there are NO shortcuts… you just keep your head down, keep pedaling, and you work toward the bridge that’ll get you across to where you need to be.
It offers all the “mental looseness” of free time, while still using that time to accomplish something (both getting to work and “working out”). It’s work and it’s busy, but it’s not busy work… and that makes all the difference.
The feedback I get from my web design clients is very often given in the context of what their industry peers are doing. And, almost as often, when I press them for clarification about why their peers do things that way, I get a blank look in return.
They hadn’t thought about that…
It’s easy, especially in well-established industries, to believe that your predecessors know more than you. If they do something (advertise somewhere, use a particular tool, follow a certain code of conduct, etc.), they must be doing it for a reason, and that’s “good enough for me”.
While this is true for many aspects of most business, great businesses are the ones that know why they do what they do; they’re the ones that take those “because-that’s-how-it’s-done” processes and flip them on their head to better fit the circumstances of today.
Why is “why” important? Because without it, we can’t be leaders.