Back in two thousand and something Adrian Shaughnessy came over here and gave a talk at Ulster University. In it he expressed an idea that, although fundamental to the kind of work I do, I hadn't until then heard expressed so concisely.
Can't remember his exact words but the gist of it was that one of the most important characteristics that a designer should develop is "empathy for your client". It wasn't what I was expecting from AS but at the same time I remember thinking, "Yes, spot on. Well said that man. Good point. Hear, hear."
But how do you achieve the necessary level of insight to understand how their shoes feel on your feet? All the usual ways of course: talking to your client and stuff; it's not rocket science, it's about spending time with them. But then this might help a smidge too: 101 Things I Learned in Business School gives a super-fast snapshot overview summary of the terminology and mechanisms of business. It's a bit of a cheat but let's face it, you're unlikely to study for an MBA.
Now I'm not saying that it doesn't get a bit boring at times, it does; but no pain, no gain. And every now and then it leans a little towards the You-Ess, which is fine if you're that side of the water but if you're not, it's not. Putting those minor points aside though, if you're like me (a designer who has worked for business to business type clients) you might find something between the covers to help you see things from their point of view.
Something like, for example: the benefits of functional silos; how it's better to seek another opportunity than to rush into the present one unprepared; the rule of 72 (interestingly number 51); how "not to decide is to decide"; something or other about decision trees; what makes a good manager; that thing about how government monetary policy relates to borrowing and expansion; how there has never, ever really ever been a true barter economy (EVER!); and even (wait for it) that "there is nothing so practical as a good theory", at least in theory anyway.
I'm doing a talk to final year students in December and I'm thinking I might talk about this book. If anyone out there does decide to give it a go, I'd be interested to hear if you think it's a useful read. Or if, in fact, you think it's not.