Michael featured in Concept Kick's Courage Series

Sunday, May 7, 2017 5:15 PM

This piece was originally posted on conceptkicks.com as part of their seires on courage in design called “The Battle Within”. Interview by Brett Golliff.

When Daniel and I thought to start this series one of the first people I knew I wanted to feature was Michael Ditullo. He has always been an inspiration as he’s willing to not only share all of his process with the world but he’s also willing to build and communicate with the design community openly. He’s also a great example of someone who has designed across multiple platforms of scale and proportions and companies. This to me means that he’s willing to challenge himself to learn constantly. That’s not easy to do.

If there is anyone who has shown courage to create its Mike.

Check out his thoughts below on courage.

B

“I was just talking about this very topic with some designer friends at CES (2017). I think a lot of decision making is driven by fear. Specifically the fear that something won’t sell. I’ve seen fear based, reactionary decision making my entire career. I’ve seen it from sales, buyers, marketing and engineering, but also just as much from other designers. I completely empathize with those who feel it. No one wants to be responsible for deciding to make something that is a total dud. No one wants to say we made a bad call and the result is a warehouse full of product that won’t sell and now we can’t give raises or bonuses. I like raises and bonus as much as the next person!

I empathize because I have a fear based decision making mechanism as well, but from a totally different source. My fear is making something that has no integrity. It is the reason why I put everything I design on a display shelf in my home studio. Not to show it off, to remind myself that I am responsible for making something of value. Long after the monthly, quarterly, and annual reports, that object will live on in the world. It has to function, it has to solve a user’s problems, it has to bring joy, it has to last, and it has to outdo the competition. My fear is often misconstrued as courage, confidence, or even bravado. The truth is I’m scared to death of making something that doesn’t matter. My fear is bigger than any one uncomfortable meeting where I may be the only one defending the most advanced yet acceptable solution possible. I know that this has had the unfortunate side effect of making me sometimes difficult to work with. I can name a couple of occasions where it has almost cost me a job! At the end of the product development process and the products hit the market and become successful I find that people tend to forget those conversations where they tried to block the product. Memory is a funny thing and in retrospect people forget they were once afraid of the solution. I try my best to help them remember those times when it all worked out because I’m already working on them to go with the next big idea.” – Michael

Other blog posts:

What Does it Take to ba a Design Leader

A Day Decades in the making