IxDA the Duality of Excellence
“...it has been the ability to oscillate between optimism and criticism that has allowed me to succeed.”
IxDA (Interaction Design Association) Seattle was pleased to have our Design Manager, Loren O’Laughlin, share his personal account of experiences that shaped his perspective on creativity at the Lightning Talks as a part of this year’s Seattle Design Festival. The theme this year was “balance,” a challenging feat for many design professionals today.
In working on projects both big and small, it has been the ability to oscillate between optimism and criticism that has allowed me to succeed, and I think everyone has this superpower too.
Thinking about the projects where I have been most successful, I can put on the rose-colored glasses and imagine everything is going to be AWESOME. If I didn't, I probably wouldn't even start—I couldn't.
Then as the results start to form, I rip the glasses off and put the work under extreme criticism. It's terrible, it needs to be reworked, we're solving the wrong problem! If I don't do this, then the deliverables are sub-par.
In one example, back in 2002, I was leading an immersive design project; and I had big visions early on. As the project timeline dwindled down, my optimistic outlook became shrouded by clouds of pessimism; this grand vision was slipping farther and farther from becoming a reality. I wanted to give up.
Living independently in these polarized swings between optimistic and pessimistic perceptions of my work did not allow me to make informed decisions or conclusions to build on. I realized that these were in-fact two very critical perspectives that I needed to occupy. That's when the process finally became iterative and enabled me to create an immersive experience that, although less than what I had envisioned, was leaps and bounds beyond the expectations of the end user. The truth is the end user is not aware of the delta between my original grand visions and the final experience.
I know a secret about you. Every ambitious thing you have ever done has been a failure at some point in the process. But the ability to step back, pick yourself up and look at your work critically, has allowed you to deliver impressive designs. Swings of optimism paired with critical evaluation are essential to delivering well-iterated work.
Loren is Design Manager at Level 11 where he leads the creative team to propose, defend, iterate, loathe, rework, and deliver transformational experiences to some of the worlds top brands. Loren is not clinically bipolar, but benefits from the ability to take multiple perspectives during the project lifecycle.