Obviously, not all meetings should be two hours max. I mean someone is trying to solve Middle East Peace, but I was in a meeting where, after a certain time, I just felt there’s no reason this meeting should be THIS long. I think every person has this quotient (at different lengths) ticking in their heads. Keep the info utility front-loaded, you know!
I answered a LinkedIn Group question today regarding showing work-in-progress. My answer was does not apply, not because it’s fully accurate, but becasue the breadth of the issues weren’t explained in the available options:
On showing works in progress, I think many of the answers above show the complexity and problems of showing a client work-in-progress and they take me to a point of summation, in that a client hires you for vision and part of that vision is to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff of decision-making, if you will.
I remember hearing Georgia O’Keefe say something like it’s the artists’ role to choose and I feel like that’s utterly important here in developing client work. Yes, good contracts, yes explaining scratch work, yes showing work as “progress” and progress payments, but the other thing is that, dependent on the relationship (I have a long-standing relationship where WIP is great, for example), it’s often difficult to foresee the degree to which the client can visualize that it truly is a process and the degree to which the process can be proportionally fruitful farther in (i.e. once you really lock in on a concept–inspiration isn’t always a straight-line ascending line graph).
So, I tend not to because if anything goes wrong, wouldn’t you rather be that person who did admirable work, as exhibited through process, that they just didn’t like or the moron who scribbled on napkins and you hated it?
With all the snow and cold, I was recently treated to about 1 hour of channel surfing. On the Sundance Channel I saw a segment in a documentary series called <em>The Day Before</em>. through all the self-importance and posturing, I thought about how often and similar the process of cramming is for design practitioners of the graphic kinds as well as fashion. I saw the end of one on Fendi and (Karl Lagerfeld) and the beginning of another (Jean Paul Gaultier). The self-importance of the Fendi documentary was about as much as I could stand with my fingers ready to turn the channel, but the Gaultier documentary was interesting in its ability to capture the craziness in front of a fashion show. What struck me is how little was actually done ahead of the day before!!! Gaultier’s whole collection was rounded together in the last 24 hours.
What is it about the zen of the deadline? This has been on my mind for about a quarter since I’ve been working with a MICA flex class on assignments that—while modified—were an assignment that I received and was given 24 hours to complete. When I got the assignment I was happy of course to be paid, but then as soon as I got off the phone with the client, the first thing that happens is I begin hearing that ’24′ tick-down, knowing that the clock is ticking…. And how for the first five hours I dinked around testing various compositions, then eating and then thinking: “I’ve got to have something definitive going into the next day”… I didn’t.
But, we’ve heard this story before: a little head-clearing and voila comps which went to the client just slightly after time. Flashback to the present. What remains of that story is some decent work and the buzz of the deadline. When communicating all this to the students, I’ve focused on their creating the internal process of milestone completions that allow one to revisit and rebuild—making the design better and better as one goes along. All that works out on paper, but the “fog of war” happens and the process gets muddled. For instance, the snow interfered with six-hour class that was the working time that gave the students deadlines BEFORE the deadline. For some this was a help, for others it was a hindrance. More time to ponder became more time wasted. I saw a documentary where a design firm developed thirty-five prototypes of a chair design before presenting it to the client and wanted to impart this level of preparation to the students, if only to prove to them that, everything doesn’t have to be a <em>seat-of-the-pants</em> design process.
On the other hand sometimes those iterations become the inspiration that comes together in the end. It’s all down to varying experiences and varying processes. The key is to know your process. An example of that is the difference between the way Apple releases products and Google releases products. Apple’s emphasis is built on hyper-preparation and testing, perhaps fueled by their failures of the late nineties (think Newton pad). On the other hand Google often can’t release something fast enough to get it to a beta stage that can then be reworked and made better. Apple rarely does this. And anytime Apple had to revisit something, it was under the prospect of negative reaction—think back to the switch to OS X or the switch to USB and firewire and the blowback that Apple received.
Google’s not found the same level of objection, often releasing products at beta (Gmail is a prime example) which then was slowly introduced to the masses. In an article on innovation in Fast Company, Doug Merrill, a Google executive said, “The marvel of Google is its ability to instill creative fearlessness”… A book I have on creativity called Fearless Creating says that we should “understand the difference between working and working deeply.” The bottom line is no matter what approach we use, it ultimately has to be about our ability to tap into that stored creativity reserve, preserve and cultivate some of that and make it useful for someone to digest.