Left vs. Right-brained

I thought I got it. I thought that was it. Sure of my design process being "the" design process, my path to deliver successful designs was always smooth and straight forward. My pre-established, proven-record, wow-amazing design process included what, in summary, many design processes include: definition > research > creation. Plain and simple. Through this method, I designed many campaigns and guaranteed buy-in from clients. That, added to my sell pitches, have been on target because I would demonstrate a good understanding of the strategy and the ultimate goal and used that to feed my design process. By following that process, my designs always made sense to the business crowd.

It was not until recently, when I discovered that there isn't a single road to a successful design solution. I realized that I could look at this from an analytical perspective but also from a more empirical view too. Once I faced this situation I thought of categorizing this two different ways to approach design: 

  1. The left-brained design process, which looks like this:
    Define > research > brainstorm > conceptualize > choose solution > apply
  2. And the right-brained design process, which looks like this:
    Define > research > brainstorm (here is where it starts getting messy) > conceptualize (here’s where it gets messier) > choose a solution (here’s where you think there was a decision made) > apply (here’s where the application looks nothing like the solution provided > iteration (here’s where the design forever evolves)

In #1, there is no testing, no iteration, no redesign. That is simply not acceptable. There is never time, it is not what was agreed on, and nobody cared anyway.

Whereas in #2, the process is a messier one but more collaborative too. One that goes both ways and not just one. One in which conversations--instead of isolation--bring up the ideas. One in which everyone cares. Notice that the steps of process #1 are still there but they don’t have a clear finish line. Once brainstorming starts it’s all about a combination of ideation, conversations, iterations, and going back and forth to the drawing board, and start all over again. It almost feels as if you are never getting there. But it is just that you are perfecting your way there.  I wish I could define this process in a better way but I’m still trying to figure out how can it be explained as an organized chain of thoughts that are sharable and applicable to any work environment.

The right-brained approach is not the process of just the designer, it is the process of everybody: art director, creative director, copywriter, marketing director, chief marketing, program manager, photo editor, you name it. In this approach everyone matters because everyone brings in a new perspective, and everyone is included.

If you are for the establishment you may work best in a left-brained design process. If ongoing conversing and brainstorming is your thing then you may fit best within the more relaxed but also chaotic right-brained format.