To design quickly, design openly

Ryan Singer‘s SVN post, “Designing in the open“, from 2011 is still relevant.

He is right: designing “in secret” is unproductive.

The valuable remark*: “Instead of asking for 10 changes and waiting a week, you can ask for 1 change and wait 15 minutes.”

As with so much improvement, design leadership can be a powerful, simple catalyist:

Whoever is managing the project or directing it can ask for smaller, more frequent steps.

Instead of asking for 10 changes and waiting a week, you can ask for 1 change and wait 15 minutes.

…the set of constraints and motivating concerns is smaller. The design is easier to talk about because there are a fewer factors involved.

This is much the same attitude as SaleForce’s George Hu expressed in his New York Times Corner Office interview this week.

Q. What behavior do you have a low tolerance for?

A. I call it “going into your cave.” I might say to somebody: “I’d like you to assess whether this idea makes sense, but don’t go into a cave.” And what I mean is, don’t go off for three months and work on this detailed analysis. Because that’s not how things get done. … We’ll make much more progress that way, and it will be a lot more fun, too.

Outside of espionage or surprise, there is no inherent reason to work in secret.

Design which perennially hampered by it’s popular reputation as a magical, “creative” act, is especially susceptible to this treatment.

*However, I completely disagree with the author’s pop psychology touchy-feely approach. It’s just not that deep. It’s simply about the production process. Smaller steps move along the design toward done (or final approval) faster. By cloaking his idea is mumbo jumbo about confidence, maturiaty, shame and power, he distracts from productive process, which is enough reason to change one’s design approach.

“Designing in the open”, by Ryan Singer, 37signals, May 25th, 2011

“Using Just One Word, Try to Describe Your Career DNA”, By Adam Bryant, New York Times, April 18th, 2013

In one word, what is your career?

Today, The New York Times’s Adam Bryant interviewed George Hu, COO, Salesforce, for their column, Corner Office.

Hu asks job applicants, “How would you describe who you are, in the core of your DNA, in one word?”. (His own answers are below.)

Great question! Can you distill your work identity to a single word? My answer: “leader”. Earlier in my career my answers would have been, “Designer”, “Problem-solver”, “Translator”. While I still am those. In the last two years I have recognized that most people I work with (both clients and my team) do not feel comfortable having overall responsibility.

At the same time, I recognized that I, on the otherhand, am most engaged in my work when I take on responsibility for more than my own work. It bring out my best resources and motivates me to work hard and keep my eye on the ball.


With friends and family we often start our day’s conversation by asking, “what is the caption?” as a way of getting the other person to drop the minutea of their day and share the pith.

The one-word format intrigues me. In today’s “Brand You” career culture we talk often go on and on about ourselves in great depth, making sure to mention every aspect of our skills and accomplishments. What’s the caption?

Hu asks, “who are you?” What can we learn by answering, “what do you make?”

My question, “How would you describe what you do, in the core of your DNA, in one word?”

For me, it’s, “Products”.

For you?

And if you had two words to encapsulate your career?


Using Just One Word, Try to Describe Your Career DNA, by Adam BryantNew York Times, Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Interview Questions

  • You worked your way up from intern to chief operating officer at Salesforce in a decade. Where did you get your drive?
    • My parents gave me a lot of freedom, which actually allowed me to find myself.
    • One early trait: I always tried to do the thing that people said I couldn’t do, or was off-limits.
  • How did you start your rise up the ranks at Salesforce?
    • The Salesforce C.E.O. wrote, “We’re having some problems in Europe.” I talked to 20 people, did an analysis and sent it to him. He said, “I want you to tell me what’s wrong with the company.”
    • My advice: Don’t solve the problem that your manager or your boss tells you to solve. Solve the problem that either they don’t know they have, or solve the problem they know they have but nobody is solving.
  • That was a bold move.
    • If I think I have a good idea, I just can’t help sharing
  • What do you do to spur innovation?
    • We sort and filter up great ideas and execute the really good ones.
  • What are some unusual things about Salesforce’s culture?
    • On internal social network employees can rant about anything.
  • What else?
    • We ensure we are always communicating and aligning.
    • Every year, the management presents the business plan to every employee worldwide: The values and the 10 most important things we’re going to do
    • This is V2MOM (vision, values, methods, obstacles and measures).
    • Any employee can see what I’m supposed to get done that year.
  • How do you hire?
    • I ask “why” a lot, to learn what motivated people to make the decisions they made throughout their career.
    • A bias toward people in an organization for more than five or six years.
    • I force people to prioritize things
  • What behavior do you have a low tolerance for?
    • Responding to a request with a three month-long detailed analysis
  • What other career advice do you give people?
    • Answer “the core of your DNA, in one word?”
    • Know who you are, and really understand what you’re exceptional at.
  • How would you answer that question?
    • “Analyst,” then “Problem-solver.” Today, “Leader.”

Coke’s David Butler on Design

Designer David Butler’s responses to a few simple questions about commercial design ring true to me.

Designers … “see problems as opportunities to make something better”

… “the predictable, formulated and analytical world we’ve known and operated in for so long is changing. … this requires different skills. For example, being able to integrate seemingly unrelated things is a skill, as is using empathy to design solutions that can adapt to different user needs, or using systems thinking”…

“I love learning and thinking about all types of systems, from simple to complex.”



Below, the full text of these question from ten he answered:

3. Most Coca-Cola associates know you for leading global design. You’ve referred to designers as “natural optimists.” Can you expand a bit?

Designers don’t see problems as problems. We see problems as opportunities to make something better … we’re hard-wired that way. Today’s world is more connected and complicated than ever before. The types of issues we’re faced with have moved beyond complicated to what some call “wicked problems” — multidimensional, nonlinear challenges like obesity, water scarcity, global warming and the international debt crisis. We can’t really solve these problems; we can only chip away at them. They require all of us to “think like designers” with a new level of optimism as we design solutions for a dynamic and uncertain world.

4. We hear a lot about the rise of the creative class. Can you touch on the growing importance of creativity and “right-brain thinking” in the business world?

Much of our business is predictable. Our core business is driven for the most part by formulas, analytics and certainty. But our world and many of the rules of business are changing. Ian Bremmer says it best in his new book: “We have entered a period of transition from the world we know toward one we can’t yet map.”

When we look toward 2020, the predictable, formulated and analytical world we’ve known and operated in for so long is changing. In order to survive and hopefully thrive, we must design for adaptability. And this requires different skills. For example, being able to integrate seemingly unrelated things is a skill, as is using empathy to design solutions that can adapt to different user needs, or using systems thinking to understand how to create shared value. Some people call these examples of right-brain thinking or design thinking. Others call them creative skills. I call them survival skills. But no matter what we call them, we all need to build our competency in these areas to create more adaptability for our business.

5. What inspires you creatively?

When people ask me this question, my answer always throws them a bit. To be honest, I’m a systems geek. I love learning and thinking about all types of systems, from simple to complex. The ones that inspire me the most are the complex ecosystems found in nature — from black holes in space to bee colonies. All of these are very complex systems, and I love trying to understand how they were designed.

From “10 Questions With Coca-Cola’s Innovation Guru,” by Jay Moye for The Coca-Cola Company, 20121016

The Internet, Newspapers and Democrasy

Today a Vermonter brought this 2009 speech* by Ross Connelly to my attention.

To delineate his principles as a news publisher asks this question: “what does this have to do with democracy?”

A parallel thought that popped up in my mind at each workshop, was, what does this have to do with democracy? I always asked this question as the press has a constitutional protection — one of two institutions given that status in the First Amendment. To me, that means the press rests on the foundation of a civic society, as that is what the constitution creates. A newspaper is, therefore, a civic institution that has a civic responsibility. I repeat that: a newspaper is a civic institution that has a civic responsibility. My view is that carries a lot of responsibility with it. And recognizing that responsibility — that privilege — is the reason I always ask what is the relationship between the technology the Internet offers and newspapers? Said simply, what does that relationship have to do with democracy?

I concur with Mr. Connelly. Newspapers have a primary responsibility to their institutional civic role. Articulating and embodying this role must be a news publisher’s primary guidance.

He goes on to discuss his own newspaper’s reasons for publishing in print.

For him, the fundamental fact of the web as a communication medium obviates it as suitable for the publishing responsibility of newspapers.

As a publisher, I also know I would rather Gazette readers have to go to the store or the mailbox to get the newspaper than read it on the Web. I say that because I see a generation of people who “communicate” with each other all day and night via the Web. As a matter of fact, none of them is interacting face-to-face with another person. They are interacting with a computer screen.

To me, part of democracy — no, a requirement of democracy — is face-to-face interaction. We have to interact with each other if we are to be able to live togeth- er — to work out solutions that benefit all of us. To me, a person who stops into [the local store] on a Wednesday morning to pick up a copy of that week’s Gazette will interact with other customers and employees. The person may take a glance at the front page and offer a comment to another customer or to a sales clerk and the other person may respond. The people are engaged in a form of civic life that strengthens society in comparison to a person who is speaking to a computer screen.

As citizens, we who design and promote the web as a communication medium, have a duty to our fellow citizens and our society – a civic duty – to be mindful of the civic impact of our work and furthermore to advocate for the inherent value (and authority) of real, actual interaction with each other without the mediation of machines.

The impact of the products of our work is so widespread that it changes the fabric of our society. Some civic institutions and activities are not improved by the disintermediation of electronic communication.

What does this have to do with democracy? (PDF)

By Ross Connelly, Grassroots Editor, fall 2009

A longtime member of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, Ross Connelly is the editor and co-publisher of The Hardwick Gazette, a 120- year-old weekly newspaper in Hardwick, Vt., and a past president of both the New England Press Association and the Vermont Press Association.

To change thinking, change the model (Fuller)

R. Buckminster Fuller puts it succinctly. Twice.

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them.

Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”


“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.

To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

― R. Buckminster Fuller

This is a fundamental approach I take to solutions to my clients’ problems.

This is the strategic aspect to strategic design.

This is at the root of design thinking.

Bre Pettis’ Done Manifesto

In many cases, words to live by.

Important exceptions: All the times when you should think first!

The Cult of Done Manifesto, 2009 | Bre Pettis Blog

  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
  2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  3. There is no editing stage.
  4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
  5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
  8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
  9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  13. Done is the engine of more.

My amendments:

  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and reflecting.
  2. Accept incompletion as completion.
  3. There is nothing but editing.
  4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is knowing what you are doing if it moves you forward.
  5. Procrastination never progresses a goal.
  6. The point of being done is to be able to set a new goal.
  7. Once you’re done you can throw it away. This is the creative person’s secret.
  8. Laugh at perfection while seeking precision.
  9. People without dirty hands haven’t started. Doing something means you’re progressing.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes. Done is it’s own success.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done. And preparing to start.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, you are ready to do something else.
  13. Done is the engine of enough.

Social Design 101 (JESS3 on SlideShare)

A good description and analysis of the essentials of social design by a firm that doesn’t hold back from new design directions, JESS3.

The Art of Social Design (on SlideShare)
by JESS3, July 11th, 2011

33 slides

Summary: As the leaders in social design and data visualization, JESS3 shares ten of their insights that they apply to every project. From considering the minute details of Facebook share copy, to developing strategies from the get-go that optimize for the right browsers and devices, this deck promises to share practical (and often unconsidered) advice.

Facebook Principles and Values

I’m drafting some rules of engagement for children’s use of Facebook, as well as some guiding principles.z

To find them, I distill Facebook’s user experience, customer interactions and uses to remove sentiment, marketing nonsense, brand claims, misdirection.

So far, I have these:

1. Facebook is predatory (parasitism)
2. Facebook is playing for the long term. (To win the long game)

Elaboration and more thoughts to come.

Eradicating Flashback from your Mac (CNET)

In the CNET MacFixIt blog yesterday CNET Blog Network Author Topher Kessler elaborates on F-Secure’s stepwise instructions for eradicating the virulent Flashback malware from your Mac. (He also provides clear instructions for diagnosing your Mac for Flashback infection.) He writes:

How do I remove it?

If after running the first three detection commands you find that your system does contain the modified files and you suspect it has the malware installed, then you can go about removing it using F-Secure’s manual removal instructions. These instructions are a bit in-depth, but if you follow them exactly, then you should be able to rid the system of the infection:

Open the Terminal and run the following commands (the same as above):

defaults read /Applications/ LSEnvironment
defaults read /Applications/ LSEnvironment
defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES

When these commands are run, make a note of the full file path that is output to the terminal window (it may be paired with the term “DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES”). For each of the commands that output a file path (and do not say the domain pair does not exist), copy the full file path section and the run the following command with the file path in place of FILEPATH in the command (copy and paste this command):

grep -a -o ‘__ldpath__[ -~]*’ FILEPATH

Locate the files mentioned in the output of the above commands, and delete them. If you cannot locate them in the Finder, then for each first type “sudo rm” in the terminal followed by a single space, and then use your mouse cursor to select the full file path from the first command’s output, and use Command-C followed by Command-V to copy and paste it back into the Terminal. Then press Enter to execute the command and remove this file.

See the following screenshot for an example of how this should look:

screenshot of how Flashback malware eradication commands appear in Mac OS X Terminal app.

After running the command and revealing the path to the malware file, copy the path to the "sudo rm" command on a new line as is shown here to have the system delete it. (Credit: Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET)

When you have deleted all the files references by the “defaults” commands above, then you have removed the malware files, but you still need to reset the altered applications and account files, so to do this run the following commands:

sudo defaults delete /Applications/ LSEnvironment
sudo chmod 644 /Applications/
sudo defaults delete /Applications/ LSEnvironment
sudo chmod 644 /Applications/
defaults delete ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES
launchctl unsetenv DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES

In the Finder, go to the Go menu and select Library (hold the Option key in Lion to reveal this option in the menu), and then open the LaunchAgents folder, where you should see a file named something like “” Next, type the following command into the Terminal (Note: change the name of “” in the command to reflect the name of the file before its .plist suffix):

defaults read ~/Library/LaunchAgents/ ProgramArguments

When this command is completed, press Enter and note the file path that has been output to the Terminal window.

As you did previously, locate this file in the Finder and delete it, but if you cannot do so then type “sudo rm” followed by a single space, and then copy and paste the output file path into the command and press Enter.

To remove any hidden .so files found earlier, you can remove them by running the following command in the Terminal (be sure to copy and paste this command, as there should be absolutely no spaces in the last component that contains the symbols and punctuation marks):

sudo rm ~/../Shared/.*.so

After this step is complete, remove the file called “” and you should be good to go.

Read the CNET MacFixIt blog post in full:
How to remove the Flashback malware from OS X” by Topher Kessler, CNET Blog Network Author , Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Is your Mac a Flashback host? (CNET)

CNET NewsApple Talk Staff Writer, Josh Lowensohn provides succinct instructions for diagnosing your Mac for the virulent Flashback malware. He writes:

How do I tell if I have it?
Right now the easiest way to tell if your computer has been infected is to run some commands in Terminal, a piece of software you’ll find in the Utilities folder in your Mac’s Applications folder. If you want to find it without digging, just do a Spotlight search for “Terminal.”

Once there, copy and paste each one of the code strings below into the terminal window. The command will run automatically:

defaults read /Applications/ LSEnvironment
defaults read /Applications/ LSEnvironment
defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES

If your system is clean, the commands will tell you that those domain/default pairs “does not exist.” If you’re infected, it will spit up the patch for where that malware has installed itself on your system.

Read the CNET blog post in full:

Mac Flashback malware: What it is and how to get rid of it (FAQ)” by Josh Lowensohn, Staff Writer (@Josh), CNET News Apple Talk, Thursday, April 5th, 2012