I hope you don't mind Jonas, but I thought your framing of experience
was a worthy topic all on its own...
The notion of experience and domain expertise is something that
hiring managers are almost always interested in. It leverages years
of work and countless failures without enduring the cost of either.
Using the classic T-shape metaphor, experience can be deep, but can
also be wide and diverse. Both have their advantages. As consultant
and outside design firm for most of my career, I am particularly fond
of the wide. Some of my favorite and most successful design
breakthroughs have come from recognizing a familiar situation or
pattern from an adjacent or completely unrelated industry.
The counter to all this talk about experience... is that it is not
the sole answer. Particularly an in house situation or extreme cases
of domain expertise. We all suffer from blind spots. Years of
accepting familiar constraints and not challenging assumptions sets,
not only designers, but entire companies up for disaster as new
'disruptive' players enter the game.
I have watched as first year designers working with seasoned pros and
in a few minute make brilliant observations... only because 'they did
not know any better'. Jack Welch went so far as to coin the word
'nescience' to capture the essence of that insight.
Its worth noting that in light of all the conversations about
intuition, experience and domain expertise, none of these are
substitute for market and user understanding. Both markets and users
change quickly. The practice of assuming that you, as the designer,
know enough to move forward without the important touch points that
research can bring is arrogant and unprofessional. I know that it
happens all of the time. I know that great products are often
produces with this approach. I know that there quite often is not
time, nor budget, nor tolerance for this due diligence... but we
would be better with fewer assumptions.
On Jan 28, 2009, at 3:16 AM, Jonas Löwgren wrote:
> I have been following the RED thread with great interest and > pleasure, deciding not to step in this time -- but now I have to. > >> Regardless, on any given day, or any given project, a vastly >> experienced >> designer can be wrong a hundred times and an inexperienced >> designer can be >> right a hundred times. Experience matters far less than judgment. > > This comment is totally obscure to me. > > In my view, judgment in a design situation is strongly informed by > experience. > - Experience from previous design work within the genre in > question, by the designer him/herself as well as by others. > - To some extent, experience also in adjacent genres (even though > cross-genre transfer is not always straightforward). > - Experience from observing related use situations, with their > particular mixes of domain expertise, stakeholder tradeoffs and > external forces. > - Experience with tools, techniques and materials to be used. > And so on. > > Of course it *can* happen that a vastly experienced designer is > wrong a hundred times and an inexperienced designer is right a > hundred times on any given day. But it is highly unlikely. Chances > are that the vastly experienced designer is right far more often > than the inexperienced designer. And this, I believe, is one of the > key underpinnings of the whole RED notion. > > Also note that the difference in judgment ability cannot be bridged > by systematic design methods. Methods may be useful tools for > coordination and learning, but the outcome of a method is never > better than the person using the method. > > Jonas Löwgren >