"When I am no longer controversial I will no longer be important.’
– Gustave Courbet
Are people upset with you? It is because what you’ve done is so bad it is shameful, or because it is so polarizing, so rooted in a strong point of view that all but the most progressive or forward-thinking people don’t understand and "get it"? Do you want to design for the mass market of today or tomorrow? Are you designing under the old paradigm or for a new one?
Having a strong point of view, informed by real human needs, is at the core of how design thinkerdoers behave. They make choices, and thus end up with strategies grounded in the needs of real human beings, real organisms, and the planet, and end up with something whose value proposition is intelligible, which creates real value for a real soul somewhere in the world, and is designed to spread and reach the right people, whether that be a bushel or a billion.
Making choices, taking the route which may be controversial or even painful, is about being willing to live with innovative outcomes.
Great post. To paraphrase Bill Cosby, “I don’t know the key to success, but I do know that trying to please everyone is a sure path to failure.” Or as my father-in-law likes to say, ” I have a long list of friends, and short (but not that short) list of enemies, and I am equally proud of both lists.”
It also makes me think of something that was inspired by an experience I had at Abercrombie and Fitch. I tried to walk in with one of my teenager daughters and the very loud and unpleasant music drove me out within minutes. As my 15 year old explained, this was done on purpose because they want to attract people like her, and drive old and unhip people out as quickly as possible. Thus, and interesting design question is not just “who do I want to please” but also “who do I want to drive and away and annoy” with this experience, product, organizational structure or whatever.
I’ve discuss this point with a friend for many years, but we talked about “originality” and how new things always produce a sense of rejection.
What’s very important, in my opinion, about this subject is to avoid a very present danger when working in the edge of innovation: being original (or controversial) just for the originality. Originality, as you very strongly suggest, must be produced by “real human needs”.
A very pathetic example is in many rock and punk bands, where the fashion and bad words are used but the essence is lost.