I’ve heard this quote thrown around recently, and it’s really latched on in my mind: “Strong ideas, loosely held.”
What I love about this principle is how accurate it is, especially for designers working in teams. In a collaborative environment, generating valuable ideas and believing in what you create are so essential. At the same time, being receptive to feedback is an equally important skill.
So, what is possible with the marriage of these two concepts? I believe when you have good ideas and hold an open mind, great design can happen:
Successful design criticism
In critiques and conversations around design, this principle is helpful for bringing in new and different ideas to the discussion. One approach isn’t valued over others; instead, all ideas are treated as viable, and the goal of the exchange becomes iterating on and changing the work. In turn, the more rapid flow of ideas can lead to stronger outcomes because ideas that may not have been considered before are now included in the process.
In the design process, “strong ideas, loosely held” can help improve what you’re designing because ideas aren’t solidified early on. This means there is more time to reflect on and change parts up until the last minute, to deliver the best possible product.
Working in a creative field has shown me that communicating in a team and keeping an open mind to grow and learn are fundamental skills, not only for ourselves but for creating great work for our clients. With this mindset, you can more easily absorb and share knowledge, remain flexible, and be confident when it comes to design.
I suspect this is advice I’m going to keep coming back to. I also love this quote from Niemann: “This isn’t something you’re born good at, you get good at it,” says Niemann. “A top tennis player doesn’t just stop training once they win.”
Fascinating article on the people we don’t see who keep design agencies running behind-the-scenes. I also just finished reading AIGA Eye on Design’s first ever magazine issue, and it includes lots of articles related to this core theme of “invisible”.
Good, practical career advice in this Fast Company article from yesterday.