Inspirational (and at times tragic) commitment

Daffy: I can only do it once....

After Daffy blows himself up in an effort to get top-billing over Bugs… Bugs concedes defeat to Daffy and tells him to do the trick again. Daffy’s spirit replies “I can only do it once.” That’s some inspirational (and, in this case, tragic) commitment.

The gist

Mission statements are only worth the PowerPoint they were star-wipe-animated in. The discipline to commit to a vision is what leads to success…

Famous Examples of Experience Design Commitment:

  • 37Signals begins projects with a single vision in order to guide their decisions. That works for their apps because they have a culture that is committed to a larger mission statement based on Getting Real. No matter what is said about their approach, they clearly have committed to a shared vision.
  • Google Gmail’s lack of a ‘delete’ button. Purely developers sticking to a common vision. They eventually acquiesced and made the feature prominent. They didn’t ‘light the match’ on this one, but the effort was valiant. I can’t yet think of a ‘tragic’ commitment to a vision, but Google Wave is certainly at risk to join that category. To their credit, they are sticking to their guns (even their updated scrollbar). We’ll see.
  • Let me know if you can think of any more examples…

Tiers of commitment

When I began to lead projects my biggest challenge was learning to commit to an idea even though it made for some uncomfortable meetings. But I quickly learned that my commitment alone was not enough to move a project forward. There were several tiers of commitment that were required to put a vision on solid ground:

  1. Commit to your vision:
    This is like starter commitment. It is just a test of your will to have a heated discussion now and again. But this alone will not make a project a success.
  2. Inspire commitment in others:
    This is where things begin to take shape. If people are inspired to support a vision to use it to guide their work, you are getting somewhere. But this too is a risky proposition as long as it is ‘your’ vision to which they ascribe.
  3. Commit to a shared vision:
    When the ideas are more than your own your job gets a little bit easier and the focus shifts. Now you have to articulate that vision created by the group in a clear enough way for it to be committed to. Inspiration is still required, but it is less of an ask when everyone shared in the vision.

This is an idea i will definitely pursue further in order to create more actionable recommendations.


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