It’s Not Design: Losing the Forest For the Trees

When I started writing Collaborative Improv, I made the distinct choice to make it about Building Products, and Collaboration. It was an explicit choice NOT to make the book’s primary focus about Design, or the act of Designing.

This was a similar choice Brad and I made with UX Research, where our focus was on building better products, not designing them.

In both cases, we could have focussed on the tree (design) but instead chose to focus on the forest (building products).

“You can’t see the forest for the trees”

In both cases, I think we still missed the forest and instead wrote books about, maybe, a copse of trees. A book about design would have had a very narrow audience. It would have been difficult to reach project managers, developers, and other stakeholders. I thought by framing the topic as Building Products I’d have a broader reach.

“If you had written the book about leadership, I’d tell all my clients to buy it”

In a recent conversation with a friend, they said “if you had written the book about leadership, I’d tell all my clients to buy it. And they are right. I thought I had “solved the problem” by framing improvisation as a Product problem but it truly is a challenge for leadership.

I can’t change the book as it is written. But I can change my perspective on the book. I don’t think I need to change my perspective, but I can change the vocabulary. Rather than think of listening to build a better product, how do managers listen? Instead of Yes-Anding product ideas, how might we yes-and our team’s career paths or approach to a project? And instead of looking for the strange thing to build a product out of, how can we look for the opportunity for individual and team growth?

This was a passing conversation and, as you can tell by this post, an evolving idea. I look forward to expanding the vocabulary of improvisation to leadership.

What questions do you have? @ me on twitter or message me here.

And don’t forget to get a copy of Collaborative Improv while you’re here!

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