What qualities elevate a designer from “good” to “exceptional”?
On Sept 14, David and Mary Sherwin visited Atlantic BT to discuss this question along with best practices for design, business, and everyday life. The couple run their own consultancy dedicated to design leadership and training, and David is the author of the bestselling book Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills as well as Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers; Mary is a longtime educator and writer who has worked on numerous training programs and product innovation systems, such as Kaiser Permanente’s i60 Innovation Toolkit and frog’s Collective Action Toolkit. For more about the Sherwins, see their Hopscotch bio.
What Makes a Good Designer into an Exceptional One?
Sitting in a circle to promote discussion, the Sherwins shared stories and strategies they’d learned from their careers as designers and instructors. The couple devoted substantial time to taking questions focused on their work with team-building and management.
One of the standout moments of the Sherwins’ talk was the discussion of the qualities that make a good designer into an exceptional designer. Their answer included expected advantages like skill and experiences, but the Sherwins also emphasized the need to be a good communicator and listener. According to the Sherwins, the best designers support their design choices with evidence and explain the process behind their decisions; these exceptional designers are also innately curious, leading them to be open about feedback and eager to improve at what they do.
This desire to grow led the Sherwins to discuss another of their best practices—finding a good mentor who challenges you to get better at your design work and professional life. Besides being a good audience for your professional work, a mentor is the ideal person to discuss your daily ideas and inspirations. While conversing over this point, numerous attendees expressed an admiration for the creativity behind STRANGER THINGS, a sci-fi TV series set in the mid 1980s.
The Sherwins concluded their talk by giving away free copies of David’s two books to a pair of attendees. Atlantic BT’s Jon Karnofsky and Sarah Walker were the lucky ones, winning Success by Design and Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills respectively.
Between Pigstock 2016 and Pumpkin Chunkin’, there are a ton of great events happening soon at Atlantic BT. To stay up to date on our latest gatherings, follow us on Twitter @atlanticbt.