Thu 14 Jul
At the very beginning of a design project, before any boxes have been drawn or pixels have been pushed, there’s the nerve-wracking ritual known as ‘the kick-off.” For larger engagements, clients may set aside as many as four or five full days to sit down with a design team and impart as much knowledge as possible, and it’s up to the design team to make that time worthwhile. To me, this has always been one of the most difficult — and least documented — parts of the design process, because it demands a confluence of skills that you can’t pick up in front of a computer screen. To run a successful kick-off, you have to ask probing questions and carefully parse the answers that come back, taking into account corporate culture and stakeholder agendas. You have to be an assiduous gatherer of information while also a gentle tutor in best practices. And on top of it all, you have to be able to guide conversations and keep things lively, while transitioning issues logically and productively. I’ve done it about two dozen times in my career, and every time I sit down to plan one, it’s almost like starting over from scratch. Really, what makes kick-offs truly difficult is that each and every one is different.