The best bit of design and career advice I got this year didn’t come from a designer but from a brilliant developer at Newsvine. I resisted his advice at first, perhaps out of arrogance or an affinity for arguing, but looking back it was something I needed to hear. Although I’ve only come to realize it months later, learning this pearl of wisdom through words and actions made my internship at Newsvine invaluable many times over.
The advice is simple: Never complain about a bad idea without having an alternative ready to propose. The ramifications of this are incredibly far reaching…
Empty criticism is demoralizing in a team environment. Every idea you shoot down was the product of someone else’s thinking. By not providing an alternative you needlessly aggravate others while contributing nothing to the group. Fresh ideas are constructive and will earn you the respect of your team.
Nobody gets promoted for shooting down ideas. But if you see a problem nobody else notices and pitch an elegant solution, you can quickly become a hero within your organization.
If you think an idea is crap, you’ve got a great foundation for brainstorming new ideas. Spending time thinking of alternatives is fantastic exercise for your creativity.
Good companies flush out old ideas with better ones often. Bringing new solutions to the table means you’ll have an entrepreneurial mindset and dozens of new ideas to build.
It’s good to feel strongly for or against ideas—it mean’s you’re passionate and have a personal taste. If you never have those strong, polarized opinions about your work, start looking for another job—life’s too short to waste with an anesthetized career.
Don’t brandish your criticism around like a weapon. You should absolutely trust your taste when you think an idea is crap—just be smart about how you share that dissatisfaction with others.