Discussing Design

Book description

Real critique has become a lost skill among collaborative teams today. Critique is intended to help teams strengthen their designs, products, and services, rather than be used to assert authority or push agendas under the guise of "feedback." In this practical guide, authors Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry teach you techniques, tools, and a framework for helping members of your design team give and receive critique.

Using firsthand stories and lessons from prominent figures in the design community, this book examines the good, the bad, and the ugly of feedback. Youâ??ll come away with tips, actionable insights, activities, and a cheat sheet for practicing critique as a part of your collaborative process.

This book covers:

  • Best practices (and anti-patterns) for giving and receiving critique
  • Cultural aspects that influence your ability to critique constructively
  • When, how much, and how often to use critique in the creative process
  • Facilitation techniques for making critiques timely and more effective
  • Strategies for dealing with difficult people and challenging situations

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Table of contents

  1. Foreword
  2. Preface
    1. The Lost Skill of Critique
    2. What This Book Is About
    3. Why We Wrote This Book
    4. Who Should Read This Book
    5. Terms We Use
    6. How This Book Is Organized
      1. Chapter 1: Understanding Critique
      2. Chapter 2: What Critique Looks Like
      3. Chapter 3: Culture and Critique
      4. Chapter 4: Making Critique a Part of Your Process
      5. Chapter 5: Facilitating Critique
      6. Chapter 6: Critiquing with Difficult People and in Challenging Situations
      7. Chapter 7: Summary: Critique Is At The Core Of Great Collaboration
    7. Acknowledgments
  3. 1. Understanding Critique
    1. Conversations Matter
    2. The Problem with Asking for “Feedback”
      1. What Is Feedback?
      2. Three Kinds of Feedback
        1. The first two types of feedback
        2. Why it can be an issue
        3. Direction
        4. Why it can be an issue
      3. What We Really Need Is Critical Thinking
        1. Critique: The third form of feedback
      4. Critiquing Solo
    3. Why Critique Is So Important
      1. Critique Builds Shared Vocabularies
      2. Critique as Consensus Finder
      3. Critique as Iteration Driver
    4. Critique as a Life Skill
      1. Giving Critique the Attention It Deserves
        1. Myth 1: Critique is a meaningless term used to make feedback sound more important
        2. Myth 2: We don’t need to talk about or practice how we give feedback
        3. Myth 3: Critique is something only designers or other creative people do
    5. Incorporating Critique and Moving Forward
    6. Wrapping Up
  4. 2. What Critique Looks Like
    1. The Two Sides of Critique and the Importance of Intent
    2. Giving Critique
      1. The Characteristics of Bad Critique
        1. Selfish
        2. Untimely
        3. Incomplete
        4. Preferential
      2. Best Practices for Giving Critique
        1. Lead with questions
        2. Use a filter
        3. Don’t assume
        4. Don’t invite yourself
        5. Talk about strengths
        6. Think about perspective
      3. A Simple Framework for Critique
        1. Other questions to think about
        2. About objectives
    3. Receiving Critique
      1. Critique Anti-Patterns
        1. Asking for feedback without listening
        2. Asking for feedback for praise or validation
        3. Not asking for feedback at all
      2. Best Practices for Receiving Critique
        1. Remember the purpose
        2. Listen and think before responding
        3. Return to the foundation
        4. Participate
    4. Critique, Conversation, and Questions
    5. Wrapping Up
  5. 3. Culture and Critique
    1. Creating a Conducive Organizational Culture
      1. Collaboration: More Than Just “Working Together”
      2. Coordination
      3. Consensus
      4. Meeting in the Middle
    2. Incremental Versus Iterative Processes: What They Mean and Why They Matter
      1. Incremental Design and Development
      2. Iterative Design and Development
      3. Processes in Reality
      4. Why It matters
      5. Organizational Politics, Territorialism, and Influence
    3. Setting the Foundation for Critique
      1. Lack of Foundation
      2. Creating an Effective, Common Foundation
        1. The background: personas and scenarios
        2. The end game: goals and principles
      3. Making It Last: The Mini Creative Brief
      4. Putting These Tools to Use
    4. Personal Barriers to Critique
      1. Additional Cultural Influences
      2. Negative Critique Experiences
      3. Fostering the Ability to Communicate
    5. Practicing Critique
    6. Critiquing with Distributed Teams and Remote Team Members
    7. Wrapping Up
  6. 4. Making Critique a Part of Your Process
    1. Creating Opportunities for Critique
    2. Things to Keep in Mind
      1. Start Small
      2. Think Before You Speak
      3. Think About Who to Include
    3. Standalone Critiques
      1. Formal and Informal Critiques
      2. When Should You Critique?
        1. Early critique
        2. Later critique
        3. Finding the sweet spot
      3. How Often Should You Critique?
      4. What Should You Critique?
    4. Collaborative Activities
      1. Enter the Brainstorm
        1. Brainstorms lack focus
        2. Brainstorms lack structure and facilitation
        3. Brainstorms devolve quickly into design-by-committee
      2. Building Better Brainstorms
        1. Generate as many ideas as possible
        2. Determine which idea to pursue
        3. Ensure that the idea(s) you’re left with are the strongest ones
        4. Enter critique
      3. An Example: Design Studio
        1. Preparation
        2. The activity
        3. The aftermath
      4. When Not to Use Design Studio
        1. The problem hasn’t been framed adequately
        2. The problem has been framed, but there is no agreement on the framing
        3. A concept already exists from which the team can’t or won’t stray
        4. The team is not open to using Design Studio
        5. Overly complicated remote situations
    5. Conducting Design Reviews
      1. The Challenges Design Reviews Pose to Critique
        1. Their intended outcome is approval
        2. Specific changes are given as feedback
        3. Too many people and people with the wrong intentions are involved
        4. Design review timing is determined by the project’s timeline
      2. Addressing the Challenges of Design Reviews
        1. Take control of the review
        2. Recap the objectives
        3. Use the techniques we suggest for dealing with difficult people
        4. Do not rely on design reviews for critique
    6. Wrapping Up
  7. 5. Facilitating Critique
    1. Understanding the Rules of Critique
      1. Everyone Is Equal
      2. Everyone Is a Critic
      3. Avoid Problem Solving
      4. Don’t Rush to Make Decisions on the Changes to Be Made
    2. The “I Like...” or “I Don’t Like...” Rule
    3. Preparing for and Kicking Off a Critique
      1. Who Should We Include?
      2. Ensure That the Team Knows the Critique Session Format and the Plans for Facilitating It
      3. Avoid “Ta-Da” Moments
      4. Describe the Product’s Objectives
      5. Present Your Work Quickly and Efficiently
      6. Be Careful When Talking About Constraints
    4. Tools and Techniques for Effective Facilitation
      1. Defining the Critique Scope and Goals
      2. Implementing Active Listening
      3. Adding Simple Structures: Round Robin and Quotas
      4. Using Direct Inquiry
      5. Putting on the Thinking Hats (Lens-Based Analysis)
      6. Taking Notes
      7. Using Third-Party Facilitators
      8. Having the Designer Present
    5. Collecting Critique and Doing Something with It
      1. Share the notes and the design that was analyzed (if you hadn’t already)
      2. Document any open questions and plans to get them answered
      3. Review the findings
      4. Follow up with the team
    6. Wrapping Up
  8. 6. Critiquing with Difficult People and Challenging Situations
    1. Dealing with Difficult People
      1. Setting the Right Expectations
      2. Avoiding Personal Preferences and Motivations
      3. Preventing Surprises from Quiet Participants
      4. Using Laddering to expand on feedback
      5. Attempting Different Dynamics: One-on-One Conversation
    2. Coping with Challenging Situations
      1. Critiquing the Work of Someone Averse to Criticism
        1. Get them talking
        2. Talk about the work, not the person
        3. Emphasize that the critique is about iteration
        4. The sandwich method
      2. Receiving Unsolicited Feedback
        1. Step 1: Be ready
        2. Step 2: Hold on to your reaction
        3. Step 3: Consider the source and intent
        4. Step 4: Listen, understand, and use it
      3. Dealing with Reactive Feedback
        1. Step 1: Get more specific
        2. Step 2: Talk about the “whys” and “hows”
        3. Remember, this applies to positive feedback as well
      4. Dealing with Directive Feedback
        1. Step 1: Calm down and let your reaction pass
        2. Step 2: Take note
        3. Step 3: Critique the directive feedback
        4. Step 4: Critique together
        5. Step 5: Move forward together
    3. Wrapping Up
  9. 7. Summary: Critique Is at the Core of Great Collaboration
    1. Moving Beyond Feedback
    2. Adopting Critique
      1. Understanding the organizational Culture
      2. Integrating Critique with Your Process
      3. Facilitating Critique
    3. Coping with Difficult Situations
    4. Dive In
  10. A. The 10 Bad Habits That Hurt Critique
    1. Introduction
      1. Reacting
      2. Being Selfish
      3. Getting defensive
      4. Starting from Disparate Foundations
      5. Lacking Focus
      6. Focusing on What Isn’t Working
      7. Lack of Discussion
      8. Avoiding Participation
      9. Problem Solving
      10. Confusing Critique with Review
  11. B. About the Authors
  12. C. O’squo®: Discussing Design
  13. Index
  14. About the Authors
  15. Copyright

Product information

  • Title: Discussing Design
  • Author(s): Adam Connor, Aaron Irizarry
  • Release date: June 2015
  • Publisher(s): O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  • ISBN: 9781491902400