“If you think good design expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”— Ralf Speth

Great design is the foundation of speed to value for any organization.

Too often, the pressure is on people to hurry up and get something done. People attempt to do good work under that pressure. They quickly get something new created. They get it out in front of people, and it gets used. The team then iterates on that first product and incrementally improves it.

This is not bad, at first. But, sooner or later, the team will struggle. They will get slower and slower as they try to add more features to that initial design.

I have seen this happen to many good teams. Eventually, management thinks they are a failed team.

Exceptional leaders are masters at leading the design process.

  • They know when to do prototypes and why.
  • They hone the ability to switch gears from the prototyping sandbox to the production process.
  • The master the 7+ different types of technical debt.  They know what to do when they have technical debt. They know how to prevent technical debt.
  • They know that great design results in the best speed to customer value.
  • They know that design is where creativity lives.

I have coached multiple teams to make the mindset shift to be masters of design. They increased their speeds by 10x and more.

Becoming a master of design is a core part of the Exceptional Engineer (SM) Experience. You can see some more details here.

One of my mentors often talked about the importance of design. Her mantra was and is, “The key to great products is Design, Design, Design.”  I agree. What do you think?​

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

Photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash

You may also like:

Endurance Is Not Always a Virtue

I have seen leaders show great endurance in leading marathon projects. They are putting in marathon hours. The sweat sheen on them and their teams is obvious, even heroic.

Do You Need a Win?

A client wrote to me recently with a note that said simply “I need a win.” Have you been there, where it feels like you have faced a sudden losing streak and quite simply there is a need for a win? I have. I expect Elon Musk is looking for one with Tesla.

The Reader’s Edge

The exceptional leaders are voracious consumers of information. They listen to audio books, they read books, they seek out others to hear their stories. The things they read spans multiple genres, time periods, and cultures.


"Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories." — Miller Williams, Poet My wife and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Even though real work of building a life together happens in the minutes and hours between...


"Welcome to Sherwood!" — Robin Hood Father's Day was a delight for me. My family treated me a number of fun things. I was served breakfast in a hammock. I was treated to a delicious cold milkshake at a local ice-cream shop. My daughter and I have a plan to go buy some...


"I have never had to face anything that could overwhelm the native optimism and stubborn perseverance I was blessed with. " — Sonia Sotomayor One of my best clients and I were enjoying the start of our day at a local coffee cafe. We covered a range of topics and one...


"Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery. " — Mark Amidon The Washington DC zoo has this very interesting roulette-style wheel located just past the cheetah exhibit. You spin the wheel to find out if you caught your prey, your...


"A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. that change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end." — Andrew Grover There are a wave of...


"Even though it is not always easy… being a planetary scientist is one of the coolest jobs on the planet!" — Elizabeth (Zibi) Turtle   Imagine exploring Titan! And to be clear, I am not referring to the planet Titan of Thanos (Avengers), I am referring to a...

Making the Leap

Paradigm leaps take need, courage, and sweat. You will notice a different look and feel to the newsletter this week. Earlier this year, I became unsatisfied with a few key things and decided to make some changes.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This