Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Good, Goodest, Or Goodenough?

Bruce Mau's "Incomplete Manifesto for Growth" lists 43 items.

Number two is "Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth."

In other words, if I may paraphrase, excellence is not guaranteed by consensus. Results are not even guaranteed by consensus. Working toward consensus may lead only to deadlock.

Take a recent post by primo web designer Douglas Bowman. In "Goodbye, Google", part one, he tells of his resignation, and of some reasons why. "Yes, it's true that a team at Google couldn't decide between two blues, so they're testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can't operate in an environment like that. I've grown tired of debating such minuscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle."

Sounds like a good reason to leave, even for Twitter, which is where he went.

Some things cannot be decided by committee no matter how much time is put in.

In my own life I've seen a clear example of this.

First I lived in a state capital, where I was closely involved with a bicycling club. At that time my life was mainly bicycling. Day, night, weekends, and holidays. I lived for three years without a car.

When something needed doing, the club talked about it and then appointed a committee to study it.

I moved to another city, one not associated with government. I drifted into the bike club there to have some human contact, and although I was not a member, and not involved in running the organization as I had been in the first city, I noticed a difference.

It was obvious.

In this other place, when the bicycle club had an issue to confront, they'd discuss it for a few minutes, and then someone would say "I'll handle it." And it was done, and it was good. And it was settled.

True. This is different from creating a design for something, but the idea transfers.

It's like speech. Free speech. Which everyone is for until it's really needed.

Free speech is what no one wants to hear, but must. If you aren't offended or upset or opposed to what words run through your ears and muss your hair, then you aren't in the free speech zone. Free speech is what you don't want to hear, not what you agree on.

The same goes for "acceptable", "good", "excellent", and "Oh my effin god!!!!".

Committees do not surprise. They stupefy.

Keep thinking this: "Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth."

It might even hurt, but it's worth it.


An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Goodbye, Google


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