When communicating the need for process in the practice of design, what can be learned from the approach of an NBA franchise?... (read more)
In 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers were stuck in a rut. They were a below-average team embroiled in a culture of mediocrity, so they began a massive overhaul that started with the hiring of a new general manager, Sam Hinkie.
Hinkie's method was ... different. He immediately began to emphasize his belief in process:
A focus on long-term success over short-term wins.
While that sounds good in theory, in sports, short-term losses feel like long-term losses, and after the first two seasons led by Hinkie, the team had reached an all-time low. So why did Philadelphia stand behind the new method?
They had trust in the process.
Despite the 76ers having the worst record in the NBA. Despite Hinkie being eventually fired (technically he resigned). Philly stuck it out. They understood that time would bring long-term success (the 76ers are now considered a top-three team in the Eastern Conference), and it is time that we are here to talk about.
Our culture in the west is seemingly obsessed with the idea of moving quickly, and the speed we try to bring to most endeavors appears to be the new normal. We all seem to be in one, massive hurry. But should we be? Specifically, in the practice of design, can quality creative work be achieved when the primary motivator is "Let's get it done ASAP" rather than "Let's take the time to make this great?" Is it possible to arrive at a lasting creative solution in a rush?
When approached about a new project, we're often asked: "How long will this take?" It's a logical question. Creative teams approach new projects in different ways and tend to answer this question differently based on their size and capabilities. Moreover, it's natural to want to confirm the proposal with the shortest timeline to arrive at a finished product quickly.
But despite this totally normal tendency, we believe that as a forward-thinking agency (no pun intended), we often need to buck certain trends. And one of the ways we do this is simply by trusting our process.
Over the years, we've developed a method that produces successful results no matter the market sector or challenge at hand. It is general enough to allow for the specific needs and goals that different projects demand, and it is always evolving. However, no matter the scenario, the simple reality is that it takes time.
In the practice of design, moving as quickly as possible generally means the results will be inferior in both quality and integrity. Taking shortcuts requires skipping necessary research, planning, and creative exploration. Instead of understanding the need and creating something with the good of the end-user in mind, we create something we think is cool and that's simply not enough anymore. Shortcuts also result in less time to develop the emotional investment needed to take a product from being liked to being loved (and sold).
To create something significant and successful, we need to understand what we're doing, why we're doing it, and who we're doing it for. And we need to value long-term results over short-term gratification.
In other words, we need to trust the process.
Thanks for the inspiration, Hinkie.