Creative tension is good tension.


Emotional intelligence, conflict resolution and communication are the key superpowers I have developed in nearly two decades of managing creative people, and twenty-five years in the social sciences. I really needed all of them, the time a promising new hire came in to my office, frustrated and furious after six weeks on the job. I had assigned her to work on a critical new product, with some of the company's strongest -- and most opinionated -- front end developers. I realized that the developers were thoroughly steamrolling my designer not because they were jerks, but because they cared so very deeply about their work, and lacked the right structure for them to contribute their passion in a constructive, iterative, creative way.

So I created one. With the Embodied Critique method, I taught them how to recognize their emotions, use the intensity of those emotions as a strength, and turn them into actionable, constructive design feedback. The result? It worked. The team adopted this method and worked much more effectively together, giving all team members a voice and creative input, with the designer responsible for iterating on critique feedback and delivering improved designs. Win!

I've been teaching this method in the classroom, at conferences, and in-house for companies, and have been amazed how laying the foundation for honesty and thoughtfulness creates more effective designers and better designs. Please try it out and let me know what happens!