Tue 18 Jul
If you’ve got a great idea, you’d better do it quick, before the guys over at 37signals do it better and with more fanfare than you can. Take, for instance, this brainstorm I had a few weeks ago to start doing interviews with designers and technologists here at Subtraction.com. Not long after the idea occurred to me — and before I could share it with anyone, much less act on it — I got an email from Matt Linderman from 37signals, inviting me to face off with Jeffrey Veen, formerly of Adaptive Path and now with Google, in a side-by-side interview over at their own weblog, Signal vs. Noise. Rats!
Moderated by Matt and his 37signals honcho Jason Fried himself, the interview was posted earlier today. The topic at hand is “In-house vs. On Your Own,” or, how working for The Man is different from being The Man yourself. Both Jeff and I came from small, entrepreneurial shops that we co-founded, so it was interesting to compare notes on how life has changed inside our new respective, mammoth machines. As it turns out, our jobs are remarkably similar, even though The Times and Google are such different companies.
Also, if you read carefully through my responses to the questions, you will in fact come across some of the topics that I discussed in my talk last week at An Event Apart NYC. Among them: the idea that in many ways, the less actual design work that a design director does, the better, the notion that meetings might not in fact be poisonous, and that they’re actually very important to the success of the work that designers do, and the concept that it’s a designer director’s job, first and foremost, to create the conditions under which good design can happen. For anyone interested in the management of design and what it takes to get good design done in large corporations, this will be an interesting read.