There are times when you feel that you had the freedom to invent everything. That you did not have to worry about reinventing or following on what others have said or processes that other have laid or standards and best practices that others have recommended. Free of everything, a chance to start from scratch without any imposition or the way things are to be done.
I do sometimes think about this, and wish that sometimes that would be better. But I also wake up to the reality that while it might be desirable in the beginning, it might take me to a stage where I have created something that others will not understand, that others will not be able to use with the other stuff that they have, or worse that they will not benefit from it. Or I will end up delivering something a couple of years late and being the biggest reason for its fall. That is why I need processes and standards so that thought about the user is incorporated in the design.
As an other extreme, this can also lead to the same drab and boring designs, which are always expected, which are without an element of creativity or surprise. I have heard quite a number of times from my friends that they think standards kill creativity. Standards sure do put a fence around, but that is because they make sure that your creativity is useful to others. It applies specifically so in engineering where design is being done for consumption by others.
However, a dose of completely free design is necessary, to feed that creative creature inside who hates the fences. Which is what I found in CUin5 (via Elyse Sanchez). It is a mobile phone design, being done as part of an upcoming book, non.object by branko Lukic. I cannot write anything that will replace the presentation, so headover there and take a look.
I am not saying whether such a process is productive or not. But I am sure that the extent to which surprises are accepted by users depends on their benefit to them. A surprise might require the user to learn new things and probably unlearn some old things. Only the benefits can justify this effort. But what I do like about this is that it can lead to a new thinking, a new path that leads to a better solution. The old thinking, which includes standards and best practices, might be imposing constraints. And this new path can lead to a solution that breaks those constraints providing a better solution for the future. That is the reason, I feel, every individual should travel down this path, in parallel to the everyday task of providing today’s best solutions.