From Idea Generation to Decision Making

Design and design thinking get confused with idea generation. This confusion is unfortunate because the most valuable thing about the design process isn’t idea generation. Anyone can come up with cool ideas. The most valuable thing about the design process is that it requires prioritization and decision making and then offers tactics (constraints) for implementation.

Yesterday I wrote about how the combination of priorities & constraints leads to clarity on a poster. But you can apply this same combo to organizational strategy. First, figure out what’s most important. Then, use constraints to scale those important things. Constraints, in this instance, means making decisions about what to do and what not to do. The idea is to choose a small set of activities so you can focus on scaling what’s important, and say no to other activities even though you think they are fun or cool or useful.

I often say that I’m puzzled by peoples fear of decision-making and constraints and their attraction to idea generation and post-its. But honestly, I’m not puzzled at all. Saying yes to everything is fun and easy. But saying no to some things and yes to others is hard and it’s risky. Yet, decide we must. Because while saying yes to everything might be fun, it leads to a mess. Saying no to some things and yes to others leads to clarity.