Design by committee

Most, if not all, products emerge by a decision of a single person pulling particular levers. So called “group decisions”, that is collaborative way of deciding things within companies or teams, are either just words on pape, or are actual practice of making very flimsy products. It’s funny that even untill this date some people actually building products and making decisions as a collective. Even worse, they claim “design by committee” and take it seriously. Design by committee is my own label for anything broken. When I see something broken I can immediately see a group of people making compromises along the way whilst designing the thing. Over a time this is unsustainable: typically means you either lie to yourself or you simply run a trade union… either way it has nothing to do with serious development of great products. You just can’t build anything great this way.

If you even try designing by committee the outcome is either a fairly compromised product or an illusion of making decisions in a group. There’s no middle ground here. Typically it means running a facade in more formal or informal panel of people gathering together to produce a bubble of hot air. The bigger the company gets the more meeting rooms emerge and they get booked more often :-) Over a time product building skills improve and whatever is decided in those meeting rooms matters less and less. The only sustainable thing is the illusion or collective decision making. This becomes a smoke screen of making decisions in a group and typically just means wasting lot of time on listening people talking their own stories… Over a time there will still have to be someone with the biggest ego pulling a lever in whichever direction he justifies the “team has decided”, whereas in fact he’d be just taking it in the same direction he always wanted to take it in the first place.