Design is compromise
As I said in my previous articles, the Design Team represents a number of stakeholders, such as design, engineering, product management, marketing, public relations and so on. Each has its own legitimate priorities, and these priorities will often come in conflict with each other.
Scott Jenson (2002) calls this Yin/Yang Design, and makes two crucial points. First, the sooner that these issues are recognized and addressed, the less impact there will be on the final product. And this is why I wrote an article on the importance of Planning. Second, the only way for this to happen is if all the stakeholders are part of the design team from the start. It is their engagement in the type of interactions that we are describing here that can led to the most effective balance between the various Yin/Yang forces.
What keeps the things healthy and stimulating is the process by which the choices are made. Central to this is the need to be as clear about the rationale for various decisions as we are about the decisions themselves.
Being explicit about the design rationale accomplishes at least two things:
It helps guide the process away from decisions by bullying, browbeating or seniority to one where the reason for the decision is understood, and can be articulate by anyone on the team.
Understanding the rationale for a decision is also a wonderful remedy to being a prisioner of your own decisions. Indeed, after a decision is made, you might learn something new. If you know why you made a previous decision, then it becomes much easier (and safer) to determine if it should be changed.
Succesful execution of a design depends on communication, and capturing the design rationale is an important component in this.
Your partners on the Design Team must be your strongest critics. One of the most important reasons for having a team with diverse skills and experience - from design through technology, business, manufacturing, and marketing, for example - is the richness and breadth of perspective that they bring to evaluating the ideas on the table.