World’s Best Designer — A Michael Scott adaptation
“I knew exactly what to do, but in a much more real sense I had no idea what to do” — Michael Scott
Something we think will be easy, is often really difficult. That’s the true reality of great design. It is a hustle, that requires one to engage both sides of the brain to discover, associate and create. Great Design enhances life and alters basic usage patterns but most importantly, it defines the “new normal” in unexpected ways, and creates a need even when you didn’t think you had one.
Like most ardent fans of “The Office”, I’m fixated on the profundity of Michael Scott. Despite his unusual and atypical ways of management, his branch is the most successful. He has a true innovator’s DNA and in every sense exemplifies what Great Design is all about:
He challenges conventions: Michael comes up with the Willy Wonka golden ticket idea, which is inspiring, a marketing strategy combing creativity with business. He always challenges conventions and finds out of the ordinary ways to address problems. And to me that’s exactly what great design should do. The power of reasoning is so critical, and can truly help unlock imaginative possibilities. Who would have thought that people would so readily adapt to FaceID and would see value in paying the the extra premium for it. Most designers focus on understanding how to improve an existing process or make it work better, but true innovators are much more likely to take risks, challenge assumptions, reinvent the wheel and define the present and the future.
He is opinionated: Michael Scott is definitely not a crowd pleaser, and similarly great design does not try to please everyone. Great design is deliberate and intentional. It involves making hard decisions, reframing problems, removing critical features, making trade offs, and ultimately designing a solution that has conviction and a unified vision. Apple’s portfolio of products, for example, have very well defined use cases, are starkly simple, and define clear usage patterns. This is a source of criticism for many, but Apple is definitely opinionated in terms of its industrial, software and user experience design.
He is disruptive: Michael Scott is a disruptive leader. He has uncommon qualities and characteristics, and the world “normal” doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. He always looks for information and insights in unusual things. He creates a new ad film for Dunder Mifflin which is profound and original. Or how his conference room meetings lead to uncomfortable situations for those present. His extreme tendencies can quickly destroy everything, and he pushes accepted norms to the limit. Great design is a lot like that. It’s about creating something novel that alters the current system or status quo. It involves divergent thinking, systems understanding and identifying opportunity gaps that can amplify social impact. Airbnb is probably the best example of disruptive design. The thought of allowing random strangers to reside in your living room for a reasonable price was certainly bold and risky. It wasn’t just a low cost offering but also a disruptive business model, wherein they didn’t have to own properties or employee any staff, but just focus on building a great user experience to create a network effect. To build something genuinely disruptive, designers must focus on creating business models that are systematically more cost efficient than the competition and most importantly, build something exponentially better than what exists today.
All in all, Michael Scott is probably a man of many flaws, he might not be the smartest and the best salesman in the world but he truly cares about his people, he wants to give back and always dreams big. He brings humor and enjoyment to work each day and reminds us why intuition, boldness and conscious reasoning are essential to every design process.
Remember to dive deep, uncover layers of detail, and you’ll certainly find inspiration in unexpected places. — That’s what she…