Yellow hand-lettering on an orange background that reads sharing is caring

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 // by: Allison Pillar

Competition v. Collaboration

For design’s sake, let’s work together.

We live in an increasingly individualistic society, there is no denying that, but what if instead of basing our work solely in competition, we spent more time working with one another rather than against. Competition is defined as the rivalry for supremacy, but the question can be asked - what is the benefit of being supreme or superior in an industry that’s about solving problems and making life easier for the user, with a broader goal of benefitting society? Superiority is relative and the pursuit of being “the best” means viewing others as worse or lesser.

Is this really what design is about? Being the best?

“The best” means it can’t be better. “The best” means reaching an end. As design reflects the world around us and seeks to solve problems as they occur, an end most certainly isn’t in sight. And is that not what we love about design? The constant room for improvement and opportunities to learn? If there’s no end in sight, how can we (and why would we want to) be the best? Instead, we should strive to be better, using competition only as a motivator for continual improvement of ourselves and the industry rather than a pursuit to be the best.

At the root of design is intention and it has been used to plan, create, and solve since long before any of us were born. While art can be created to satisfy the individual, the intentionality and discerning nature of the design process is meant to satisfy users’ needs and challenges, creating solutions for the people and solving problems for the masses.

Enter: collaboration. Despite the term’s buzzword-y nature, used by tech companies and startups to make them sound more interesting and exciting, collaboration is simply the action of working together toward a common goal or solution.

Couldn’t that solution be a better world? A more intentional community that creates with a purpose? That purpose being to make things better for others and ourselves in the process, all while valuing and appreciating the power of great design and compensating designers fairly for their skills.

Collaboration allows for the sharing of not only skills and tools, but also the sharing of mindsets, understandings, perspectives, and experiences. Sharing in this way allows us to question and improve ourselves in ways we cannot alone.

Instead of allowing competitive envy to compel us to “beat the competition,” may we see others’ great work as an opportunity to reach out and learn, get out of our comfort zones, and try something new - because when one designer grows, the whole industry is better for it.

Valuing the power of design begins with the designers working and living it, so let’s get sharing.