Sunday, July 11, 2010

Polishing a turd

I'm not sure if it was a coincidence or not.

My friend told me about a flyer he has been working on for the last two months. Oh, he got it done a long time ago, but it keeps getting sent back to him for revisions. By one executive.

So far, this executive has asked for 11 revisions on a project that was literally sent through all the channels, signed off on, and was put to bed.

The flyer was about to go to print until he saw it.

Now, you have to understand how this executive thinks. He actually told a girl in the marketing department, "Yeah, you'll never want to show me anything because I will make changes."


As I said, my friend already went through all the channels regarding the flyer design. He told me that a bunch of people had predetermined how this flyer was going to look, so when he was originally finished, he had already deemed it a toxic addition to his portfolio.

It was a "turd," he said.

But the flyer was done and he was more than happy to close the book on it.

Then word came back from marketing that one of the suits saw it and requested a change. Fine. He did it, sent it back, and went on to his next job.

The next day, word came back that the executive didn't think he got the change quite right. Fine. My buddy made the change, sent it back, and washed his hands of it.

After all, the flyer was ugly to begin with. The executive's requests were simply making the damn thing uglier and uglier.

Needless to say, the changes continued. Since no information was being added or delelted, the changes were equivalent to "Could you move the blue line up 10 picas?"

Essentially what the executive was doing was polishing the turd. Move the freaking blue line up and down all you want, it's still going to be a steaming pile of gridless information.

To add insult to frustration, the flyer was an internal flyer for employees only. Thankfully, this was not for public consumption, but what was with the constant fixes?

Well, that's what I asked my friend - "Why all the bother?"

He told me, "He's just one of those guys."

So the bottom line is that there were no real reasons for the executive's changes. He's some dude with a hankering for adding his two cents.

Now back to my original statement. I'm not sure if it was a coincidence or not, but after my friend told me about his misadventures in committee design, I stumbled across this article over at Smashing Magazine (LINK).

I read the article on the pitfalls of design-by-committee and chuckled to myself. I even left a comment there, linking to an article about a terrible redesign of a logo, directed by focus groups and stakeholder input. HA-HA! Yuck.

My friend's experience and the article got me thinking about my own design work and the occasional compromises I have to make in the name of the committee.

Thankfully I learned to never be married to my work. Take pride in my work, sure, but never get too attached because complete creative freedom is hardly a reality.

Otherwise frustration will rise when you're faced with an executive who likes to move around your blue lines.

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