The ten emotional phases of designing in a large organisation

Here is a tongue in cheek reflection of the emotional phases of designing in a large organisation. Contains swears.
January 31, 2021

Phase 1: 'This shit is awesome!'

Phase 2: 'This is some overwhelming shit!'

Phase 3: 'WTF is this shit!'

Phase 4: 'Everything is really shit here. How have they let this shit happen? I can't even... shit.'

Phase 6: 'It's shit. But I get it.'

Phase 7: 'I am personally responsible for some of this shit.'

Phase 8: 'I can't even begin to explain to you why this shit is the way it is.'

Phase 9: 'Sit down, young one, let me tell you why some of this is shit.'

Phase 10: 'Zen Master of Shit. I can see the shit move through space and time. All shit is connected. It's a living, breathing system of...'


I think most people get to Phase 3 and bail; the grass is always greener somewhere smaller or where they 'get design' or where they pay a £10k extra but the culture is toxic. Reality is often different from expectation—I get it, I'm a dreamer too. But designers are here to push change so buckle up.

Crossing the threshold into Phase 6's acceptance can be a pivotal moment—you've learnt. You can't call yourself a credible designer if you're not learning. Now, you've learnt why things are shit, and you've learnt the breaks in the system which allow that shit. You either take that knowledge elsewhere, or you stick at it and try and fix that shit (emphasis on try). If you stick at it, I reckon the culture must be doing something right.

Which Phase are you in your organisation? Big or small? Can smaller outfits have something similar? I'd love to see it.

I'm at Phase 7. Sorry.