Design by committee

It’s so easy to tell when a design has been put through a committee instead of having one person in charge of a design. In all of my experience in designing by committee the focus seems to get lost. Everybody feels they have to have input and a piece of the design. Let’s face it, we all think differently. The designer may have a great idea but it can get messed up by a committee of people with different ideas.

A perfect example of “Design by committee” is the recent redesign of the Vancouver Canucks’ uniforms. It looks as though it started out as a good idea but went sideways before it was completed. They got some things right and somethings terribly wrong.

Here is what I think the conversation sounded like when the committee got together to decide what to do…

Member #1: “We really should go back to the vintage color style of the uniforms. Everybody seems to love the blue/green/white by looking at our jersey sales. The vintage jerseys are outselling our current version. Plus, the color represents the west coast so much better.”

Committee Head: “I like the color, but we can’t get rid of the constipated whale logo. Even though an Orca in need of a laxative has nothing to do with a Canuck, we have to keep it. The ownership group is Orca Bay so we have to keep it.”

Member #1: “But the color of the whale logo is all wrong for the vintage color scheme. It just won’t work.”

Committee Head: “How about we change the color of the constipated whale so it’s just blue, black and white? I know it will look all washed out but it will work, I think.”

Member #3: “Wait! We should put the vintage logo on the jersey and get rid of the whale.”

Committee Head: “We absolutely cannot get rid of the whale. Corporate will not go for that even though our fans like the vintage logo so much better.”

Member #3: “Then we should put the vintage logo on each shoulder. There’s lots of room on the jerseys for us to clutter it up.”

Committee Head: “Good idea. We wouldn’t want to have a focussed logo so let’s have two.”

Member #4: “With the Olympics coming in 2010 we’re going to have a lot of tourists visiting Vancouver. We really need to put “Vancouver” somewhere on the jerseys so all of these people can buy our hockey jersey and say ‘We’ve been in Vancouver.’ ”

Committee Head: “That’s a fantastic idea. What a great way to add more clutter. Plus, our fans are so dumb they probably don’t know they live in Vancouver. How smart can they be when they liked the vintage jerseys instead of the version we’ve had for the past ten years that we spent so much money on designing? Decision made. Meeting adjourned.”

All of this is a perfect example of a ‘kludge’ (or alternatively ‘kluge’) which is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as:

“An ill-assorted collection of poorly matching parts, forming a distressing whole.”

By the way, this redesign cost the team $1 million.

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