I just realized that I really don’t have a blog post about this design principle. It is not specific to the design, but rather to the process of designing within a company. In the real world, you don’t get to define 100% of the product, nor should you. You need to collaborate with other people to get the best results. However, you still need to have elements of the design that are pure. I keep a chart like this near me.
The goal is to figure out what will make the design great and focus on those elements. The rest you should solicit other people’s opinions. The reason is to gain buy-in from your colleagues. When someone asks me “What color should this button be?” My answer is “What is your opinion? I can’t decide”.
This is NOT design by committee. You are not trying to get consensus on every decision. If I want Blue and you want Yellow, Green is not a good compromise. This is a “you win some, you lose some” system. The important thing is that you (the designer) win the important things. This requires you DON’T win on the unimportant things.
If the engineers, product managers and executives feels your slice of the pie is too big, they will resent you and argue. If they feel their own decisions are baked into the product (even on trivial things like color), then they will be more likely to support the overall design.
Design is a process that requires convincing others of the rightness of the design. It serves no one to have a great design that doesn’t get built. Focus on what matters and you will have a successful product that gets built.