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

Detroit 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 Nowitzki, Paul Pierce

And arguably, the biggest mistake…

Portland Trail Blazers – 1984 – Selected Sam Bowie ahead of Michael 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 just looking at 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/idea 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.

Sometimes, you just gotta let passion drive…

Portfolio

What does this image have in common: all are vehicles, all have 4 wheels, all can get you from A to B? The answer for this exercise is “Honda”.

I’m writing this mostly because I read some of the funniest reviews at places like CNet and Gizmodo. “…this video media player would be better if it could also take pictures and send them wirelessly to my grandma…” Wait a second, do the reviewers have a concept of what a “portfolio” is? Automotive companies usually do a pretty good job at developing this. Reviews tend to be myopic, try to look at products individually AND have consideration for the big picture. Every company should have a Strategy that takes into account people’s needs, the brand, ability to produce, market size and many, many other components. This Strategy, is usually reflected in the portfolio.

Does Brand Matter? Honey I shrunk the Hummer

The new H3 looks like a shrunken version of the H2. Can you tell which one is a 2 or 3? Doesn’t this go against what Hummer is all about, BIG, BOLD, MILITARY? If people want a small hummer, I guess that’s cool, but could GM have done something different? They had to retool most of the exterior body panels right? Why not make some good design changes? Was this the easy thing to do? “Jim, scale the CAD files down to 70%.” Was this what “consumers” wanted? “I want a small hummer, ooh that would be cute!” If so, maybe consumers don’t care about what all the brand experts develop and communicate. Do consumers want their personal version of whatever is they think is hot? Maybe GM did this because Apple seems to keep shrinking ipods and it seems to work for them!

Stick to you guns. From my brand point of view, what GM just did would be analogous to using the same design for the current Mini and blowing it up into a “mid sized” station wagon. Would that still be a Mini? I guess they could rename it “Midi”, but that might confuse all the people out there in the music world.

Oh, the image on the bottom is the H3.