Don't trust the process
How to make and break your creative framework
I’m a process nerd. Defining a template project structure was one of my first endeavours when I entered the world of data visualisation. I was looking for a framework to help me deliver quality work consistently, so I solicited advice from multiple experienced designers. Do you know what almost everyone I spoke to told me?
Trust the process.
The above was my interpretation of that process—with a hint of rhetoric in it—and you’ve likely not seen it before. I’ve updated it many times since. Other, more experienced, people have also gone through defining frameworks of their own. If you come from a design background, you’re probably familiar with the double diamond. Or perhaps you’re more of a design-thinking kind of person.
These are all tried-and-true methods. But as years go by, I realise that the process is not as linear or as trustworthy as I initially thought. So what if we didn’t trust the process? What would that look like?
In the book Creativity Inc., Pixar’s producer Katherine Sarafian talks about how she prefers to trigger the process rather than simply trust it:
I observe to see where it’s faltering, then slap it around a bit to make sure it’s awake. The individual plays an active role, not the process itself.
Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
How exactly can you trigger the process and shake it up? Three ideas come to mind:
Add a step when needed (there’s been talk online about adding impact to the double diamond);
Recognise when you’re stuck and go back to an earlier step;
Skip a step if things are flowing (optimistic, I know, but it does happen!).
So where does that leave us? Don’t ditch your process as communicating around it will go a long way with clients and stakeholders. But perhaps see it as a shape that is not linear—contrary to bars and diamonds—but is more fluid instead. And don’t trust it too much.
As always, thanks for reading The Plot.
See you next week,
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