NBA draft picks

nba-logo2

The recent NBA draft got me thinking, what does this have to do with design?  You might think, “nothing” since American team sports and designers in general don’t seem to mix, maybe its that “I’m an artist” vs. “I’m a team player” mentality, but that’s for another post.

Work with me here for a sec. Let’s look at some NBA draft results over the course of a few years.

Atlanta Hawks – 2005 – Selected Marvin Williams ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul

Detriot Pistons -2003 – Selected Darko Milicic ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Golden State Warriors – 1996 – Selected Todd Fuller over Kobe Bryant,  Steve Nash

kobe_bryant

Los Angeles Clippers – 1988 – Selected Michael Olowokandi ahead of Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitki, Paul Pierce

And arguably, the biggest mistake…

Portland Trailblazers – 1984 – Selected Sam Bowie ahead of Micheal Jordan

michael-jordan

The process of the NBA draft is full of analysis.  Players come in for workouts (testing prototypes), lots of statistics (intensive research), analysis on how they fit as part of the team (portfolio analysis), then ultimately making the selection (placing the bet on the product).  The “companies” spend 2-3 years doing this research on any given player.

Look above again, all that testing, research and ultimately, placing the bet on how to move forward, sometimes, just doesn’t pay off.  Look at how many “bets” ended up as busts.

The Design connection: lots of research, data and testing doesn’t always pay off, especially if the data is wrong (duh, but lots of people don’t realize they are looking at just bad data), as in the examples above.  Even if the research was right, just seems like there are so many other factors that can turn things upside down that data doesnt seem to uncover.  What’s the current economic condition? What’s the competition doing? Did your product have a hidden flaw? Your product tested well, but just didn’t perform in the real world, that’s full of so many unknowns. But that’s what’s great about life, it always throws you a curve. (sorry for the mixed sports metaphor)

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate research, but i also think you can’t go overboard and you can’t let that drive every last decision you make.

the Jenga Economy

The economy has been a like game, one where people have built up an interwoven, towering system, full of money, profit and excess. It starts with a small Tower, filled with resources. Each player takes turns, removing resources without regard to the overall system. They reinvest what they have taken, to make that tower bigger with the goal to create the biggest empire possible. Sounds fun yeah? The Tower is growing, people are making money, everyone is happy. The only thing the players see is that growing Tower of wealth, and even though its right in front of their faces, its foundation is becoming weaker and weaker. They have selfishly used all the resources without regard to the overall system. Something about the game won’t let them stop, many could walk away rich but the game entices them to keep going. In the end, it all comes crashing down. Everything was dependent on each other…and everyone is out. Remind you of Jenga? Let’s hope there wont be a Jenga Environment that comes crashing down on us as well. So what to do? Fortunately, there’s hope with President Obama in office. People on the top floor of that Tower, all now hangin’ with everyone, at the bottom. So time to band together and rebuild, collectively as one. From Barack’s inauguration, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” Thanks to Dan Clements for the conversation that led to the jenga analogy.

Not what I expected from Ford

or actually, maybe this is what I should have expected from one of our Triumphant Trios from Detroit.

Heres the article from the WSJ about how Ford is going to appeal to consumers with self parking cars.

In summary, Ford is using technology similar to the Lexus self parking system. They are planning to put this into nice, big Lincolns, a sedan and a Cross Over vehicle. (BTW, is the word “cross over” attempting to trick us consumers into thinking that the SUV is dead and the car companies are offering up a great new thing?) Anyhow, I guess auto parking makes sense since big ass cars are so hard to park. According to the WSJ writer, Mullaly thinks this will cast Ford in a more favorable light. Uh Ok, I see Ford in a new light now and its darker than ever.

Adding more money, more technology, for a “low on the list” feature just doesn’t seem right…give us consumers something that has meaning and value, especially in an economy that has people re-evaluating their priorities in life. Ford may have dumped their stable of private jets, but their priorities sure don’t seem aligned to what’s happening with the rest of the world.