A beautiful garden must be tended...constantly. And in my toiling in the yard, I'm struck over and over again how gardening is similar to good design, and building strong teams.
Plants grow and flower when you prune them.
And so it goes with design. From blank white page to finished product, good design is a constant process of editing. Getting rid of the unnecessary or "ugly" stuff makes room for the good ideas to blossom, or at least be seen. When it comes to development as a designer, this means constantly assessing one's self to find and get rid of those bad habits or tied-and-true crutches, which block true innovation. What can be "cut away" to make the really great stuff shine?
Things live in the garden.
While the focus of the garden may be on the plants and flowers one wants to cultivate, the garden is a home to other living things. Some of them we don't want (spiders), and some of them we do (butterflies). But despite what we do or don't want living in our garden, we don't really have a lot of control over who visits, except for the people we invite over to enjoy it. Applied to design, it serves as a reminder that what we create provides a place, a utility, or a source of information for an audience who has come there with purpose, and that is ultimately the most important thing...making sure the garden (design) is a hospitable and rewarding destination.
A little nourishment goes a long way.
The garden survives with the right amount of sun and water. It thrives with a little fertilizer. Designers need to feed their brains, their creative souls. We cannot sit at our desks and pound out exceptional design without a little intervention from the outside world, where ideas get sparked, beliefs take shape, and inspiration can be found anywhere, if one is paying attention...even in the garden.
Variety keeps things interesting.
A garden with one kind of plant or color would be pretty boring. The same holds true with a design team. The best teams have a mix of people with varied skills, interests, and backgrounds. Applying a multitude of perspectives to a problem will result in a unique take on the situation, and solution. Designers should take ownership of the unique contributions they can make, and look for growth opportunities in the "empty spots" that can be filled.