The Art of Disruption

Q&A with Omaha's design panel

In a similar vein as Helvetica and Objectified, Design Disruptors reminds us what design is, what it isn’t and why it is an increasingly exciting time to be a designer. 

Last night local designers, developers and fellow thinkers gathered at the recreationally clad Hudl headquarters in Omaha’s charming Old Market to watch the latest design-centric documentary produced by inVision

The film puts the spotlight on product design with interviews from design leaders at Lyft, Mailchimp, RISD and Facebook. Product design, as a term, has moved away from referencing the building of tactile things to the building of software for computers and mobile devices. Instead of launching a perfected creation once with no take backs, one can now launch and revise like flipping a light switch. The bulb may burn out, but there is a wealth of data that is now collected. Product designers can see in real time what works, what doesn’t and what needs to be fixed or scrapped.

The notion of disruption reminds me of one of my most influential writing teachers and colleague, John Rich. He told our class to welcome disruption, especially when writing. If your mom calls in the middle of exploring an idea or your neighbors are blaring their music when you want silence, welcome it. Think about why you are bothered by it. Embrace it. I believe SNL rockstar, Bill Hader, also mentioned that welcoming disruption is a way of life. And life is improv. If your coworker gets that apple out every morning and starts crunching at the desk next to you, acknowledge it and find the comedy in its performative nature. 

After the film, there was a gameshow style Q&A with six design leaders from Omaha. This was my first design event since moving from Chicago to Omaha, and it was quite refreshing to meet and be amongst like-minded people in a new city and see the thriving community pulsating under one lofty roof. 

Here are my key takeaways from the film. 

  • Diversity is vital
  • So are highfives
  • Disruption is necessary 
  • Be aware of your cognitive overhead (love that term)
  • Keep an eye towards the future, complacency kills

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