Good designers don’t thrive on chaos

By Zarina Holmes

“Some people have more time than others,” according my sensei during my Japanese sword lesson.

What he meant was, people who have calm attitude and composure could think themselves out of problems better than panicky individuals.

Whether a samurai or a designer, neither could perform well under chaotic instructions. It’s also unsafe and create opportunities for mistakes to happen.

There’s nothing a designer dislike more that constantly moving goalposts. Especially near the deadline. Why? Because it’s harder to achieve the aim this way.

I’m fine with the agile method, where incremental modifications are introduced in the project as you go along until it reaches its goal. This method is great for UI, software and some digital projects, because the internet is an ongoing work-in-progress – it never finishes and could always be tweaked.

However, many companies have mistaken the agile workflow with chaos and anxiety-driven project management.

You can’t apply it to everything – like campaigns, products and big reports, which have clear closing deadlines.

However, many companies have mistaken the agile workflow with chaos and anxiety-driven project management.

Every project needs to allow for time for proofing or checking over details. I recommend from three days to one week. It’s amazing how many projects I came across that don’t recognised the time needed for problem-solving and research.

Usually this happens among start-ups because they don’t recognise their workflow processes yet.

Please also make a habit of approving jobs in the morning instead of in the late afternoon when everyone is already tired.

There are substantial reasons behind a chaotic work process – internal politics, weak leadership, economic uncertainties, bad project planning, bad corporate culture and a sign of stress manifesting in one’s work.

When you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to stop and step back to identify what causes the chaos. Try to see the woods from the trees. Maybe there’s a simpler way to solve the problem.

It will save everyone’s time and peace of mind further down the line.

Zarina Holmes is a Creative Director and Founder of GLUE Studio.