September 8, 2022

Here we go again

“Humanity makes headway by going in circles”

You know that feeling, where you’ve been stuck in a project that just seems endless?

The one with the file names that spiral into _final_FINAL_v23_081022_update.pdf

Exhausting isn’t it? And more importantly, how on earth to you keep mentally attached – or better still, keep finding at ways to stay inspired?

Some people I know just keep pushing on, because, well, that’s what you do in the design business. As Joseph Conrad sharply observed in ‘Victory’:

“The barbed hook, baited with the illusion of progress”

keeps you keeping on.

The issue here is where you often end up with an end result that totally satisfies no one. But somehow you feel like you’re making headway in the iteration cycle lane.

Now, what would happen if you could just stand to one side for a bit and watch the spinning wheels as an observer rather than the one of the protagonists? Sure, most of us don’t work in the c-suite, so we might think any chance spot of something that looked like an opportunity to improve it was slight. Or even the chance do this, remote.

But there is a point here, and a point for you to prove to yourself – that what designers do best (should always do best) is to keep asking ‘what could we do to make this better?’ Not better by trying to re-run what you’ve done. Better by taking the whole thing apart and seeing how you could reimagine those parts into a new whole. Really. And if unbundling all that effort (sweat and tears) seems just too daunting (or, to your team and especially to your clients) here’s a thought for the record:

“…the CD, which got unbundled into the MP3, which got rebundled into the Spotify playlist.”

Sometimes you need to step away to see the circles you’re in as something other than just another cycle.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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