Raise the Bar

Perhaps the single most useful thing a manager of a design/development team can do is to raise the bar of quality. By extension, I think this also holds true for clients of design agencies.

By ‘raise the bar’ I don’t simply mean saying, ‘This isn’t good enough’ or ‘work harder’, or this…

Raising the bar sounds simple but it’s not. To do it properly, the manager/client must first understand what is possible given their budget and timeline and resources. Once you know this, you can see when the output is short on quality and you can do something about it.

Second, you need to have a sense of what is currently keeping people from falling short. Is it a personality conflict? Too many meetings? Not enough coordination? Rushing into execution without generating enough good ideas?

Third, you have to have the guts to deliver the message in a constructive way. The Steve Jobs yell-at-people method worked for Steve Jobs, but unless you work at Apple it may not work for you. In my experience good people want to do well. They want to feel good about their work and themselves. They want awesome samples in their portfolio. So appeal to their work ethic, paint them a picture of how awesome the future is going to be when things are different, then set the bar of what you expect.

In sum:

  1. Understand what is possible in your situation
  2. Figure out where the obstacles are and remove them
  3. Constructively set the bar higher for the team by inspiring them