Mornings are a delicate proposition, but there are two events which, if they occur, guarantee a positive experience. The first event is coffee acquisition. Currently, there are three different coffee approaches, each has its own consequences. They are:
- Crappy mountain swill. This is coffee from the local store. They try, but it’s a serious B. Even the cup is limp.
- Corporate swill. Coffee from work. Again, they try, but they lose quality to volume.
- Peet’s Coffee. This is the shit. You can’t beat Peet’s. There’s nothing like driving to work with a thin sheen of caffeine induced sweat all over your body.
In terms of setting the mood for the morning, acquisition policy A and B are sufficient, but lack complexity and inspiration. Yes, I get my coffee high, but I’m cheating because it’s a path of least resistance approach: mountain and corporate swill are on the way or at work whereas Peet’s involves a ten minute detour. Committing to this detour leads to a stellar cup of coffee.
(Note: There is another coffee acquisition tact and that is “Brew your own”. It’s always an A+, but is a time consuming process reserved for weekend mornings.)
The other morning defining event is email. When I first sit down at the computer and load the morning email, I’m, again, looking for complexity and inspiration. Who on the planet took time to send me a great email? Something I can dig my teeth into and leverage my complex coffee high for an equally inspirational response? This morning the mail read, “What are the pros and cons of having design report into engineering vs. product management?”
Wow. Now that’s a question. That’s an “I should write an article about that” question. The extremely short answer is “Geography matters”. Having design and engineering in the same part of the organizational chart means they teach each other all sorts of stuff, make better decisions, and move faster. There are many cons, but I believe the pros vastly outweigh these cons primarily because of the organizational velocity they create.
I’m going to be talking a lot more about design of the coming months. This starts next month at the Webmaster Jam in Dallas where I’ll be speak on Managing Web Design which is a presentation in dire need of a new title, but you get the idea. Early next year, I’m headed to New Zealand to speak at the soon-to-be-launched Webstock conference. Ideas for this event are still swirling in my head, but design will be on the menu.
Next up is the South by Southwest Interactive festival for 2008. I’ve moderated panels at the event the past two years and it remains my favorite conference simply because it attracts of set of people you will see no where else. As I mentioned in my post-game report for SXSW2007, there was much discussion that the panels were adrift this year. There are lots of theories as to why this was the case, but that’s water under the bridge and simply a problem to solve.
I’ve got a one-two punch solution to SXSW panels this year. The first punch is a two-person presentation which I’m proposing to do alongside John Gruber. Titled Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Great Design Hurts, we’ll be tackling the idea that you’re never going to design something great without pissing someone off, yelling at people you respect, and losing sleep thinking that you’re doing the wrong thing. Piqued your interest? Great, mosey down to the much improved panel picker and say so.
The second punch is more traditional panel I’ve cooked up with co-conspirator, Gina Bianchini. The panel is entitled Designing for Freedom and will explore the idea of how products can be designed so that people can create and make something their own. The quality of a panel is defined by the panelists and I’d love to tell you who we’ve picked for this, but first you need to head back to the panel picker and weigh in.
Speaking and Design
The intent with both of the SXSW2008 panels as well as the other speaking engagements is the beginning of a intentional theme I’m setting for the next year. I want to talk with as many bright people as possible about the intersection of design and engineering. Like management, engineers are not necessarily trained in this discipline, yet they are often asked to make important decisions that affect design. In my ongoing quest to make sure engineers wear as many hats as possible, the next year is going to be chock full of design ramblings, meaty morning emails, and stellar cups of coffee.