Chapter 8. Learning from Our Biggest Mistakes


It’s possible that our best lessons are from the mistakes we’ve made.  Design leaders experience them every day. Some are small and some are monumental. Many of us can’t even remember all the mistakes we’ve made and the lessons we’ve learned. Some mistakes we’d rather not remember—but we’ve all made them. “Greg [Storey] and I did a whole workshop at Owner Camp on mistakes, so yes, we know about mistakes,” says Greg Hoy of Happy Cog. “The workshop filled half a day but we probably could have filled half a week.” In the past, mistakes weren’t shared or discussed. Today it’s a topic on blogs and at many design conferences, even if it’s only discussed around the bar afterwards and not on the main stage. Fortunately for the industry, we’ve reached a point where design leaders are willing to share their failings and mistakes. Extreme transparency is the new normal. It’s what made writing this book possible. Leaders who open up about the challenges of running a successful design group in the current technology and economic market help us all learn how to be better. We asked our leaders which hard lessons stuck out as the most memorable.

The Business Is the Design Project

As we’ve seen throughout these interviews, a common theme in any industry is that owners and leaders are very often the technical craftspeople who, through happenstance, find themselves running a business. Being a master of your craft doesn’t translate to ...

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