“Speed.” This was the unflinching response Sandy Cutler, former Eaton CEO who is now retired, gave at a public meeting in Manhattan roughly ten years when a Wall Street analyst asked what worried him the most. Taking his answer further, Cutler said he was concerned that, as the company swelled through both acquisition and organic growth—already to nearly 100,000 employees globally—it would slow down. To be competitive, the company needed to be as fast as its smallest competitor.
People working in virtually every industry I’ve dealt with, in organizations from a few hundred to a hundred thousand, often say the same thing: “We’re too slow.” The fact is that, as you grow—even from a one-person show to a two-person partnership—your decision-making process becomes more complex and you begin to plant the seeds of bureaucracy. Left unchecked, bureaucracy seems to scale geometrically—the larger the organization, the more overhead bureaucracy requires. Workers need supervisors, those supervisors need managers, managers require directors, and on it goes. Read More
People—whether clients, conference attendees, or just friends and coworkers—often ask me what my favorite phone is. I have always told everyone that, professionally, I have no opinion. I have a lot of devices and switch between them regularly—not because I am indecisive or must always have the newest and best thing, but so I can stay familiar with the variations between devices and operating systems. I need to understand how real people use digital products and services.
I don’t want to be unique in this. I think this is something every digital designer should do. It’s a crucial part of being aware of design trends and having a bit of empathy for all your users.
Not One Device or the Other, But All Devices
I’ve been making sure I keep up with mobile-device trends for a long time. I share this knowledge publicly, pulling out my phones to demonstrate points when I speak or showing my collection—an ad hoc shared lab—to local Meetup groups. I travel with a half dozen devices, and make a point of having a good representation of the current market. Nevertheless, in conversations with other speakers at a recent overseas conference, everyone was baffled about why I carried so many devices. Read More