First a little background - LMM is hosted by Mike Monteiro and Katie Gillum of Mule Designs. Mule Designs builds websites, but they podcast about design which is what interests me.
Mike is one of my favorite types of internet people. He's intelligent, opinionated, a little eccentric and not entirely full of himself. Matt Gemmell and John Gruber also tend to fall into that category.
With that said Mike is more on the eccentric opinionated side of that scale, which is why I love his stuff so much. He also gives excellent advice to audio guys about the business and process of design just about every time he opens his mouth. My first exposure to him was this video (which is NSFW if your job frowns upon frequent cursing)
so there's that. The podcast actually doesn't have that much cursing and it rambles a bit more than a formal presentation like the video above would, but its very worth it nonetheless.
The episode that inspired this blog post was a recent one called "Another Stupid RFP process" There's just so much gold in there that it's difficult to do justice with a quick blurb, but I'll try:
An RFP is a Request For Proposal and is typical of agency workflow. In it, multiple vendors will make a pitch to work on a specific job at the same time, and the committee needing the work done tends to decide who gets the job based on a number of metrics the derive from the pitches that are made.
It's also an awful awful process, and Mike and Katie just do a masterful job of taking down the entire RFP mentality. In the audio world RFPs are common to music composition (even if they aren't labeled as such), and so many musicians make their livings writing and pitching music for free to committees on corporate boards. Its also a dynamic that comes into play when pitching one's self as a sound designer for a project.
In the podcast, Mike illustrates that a good working relationship requires both give and take, not just give - and when you enter into a relationship where you'll be making emotional decisions you have to be able to figure out if you can work together.
"it's more important to have people who can work together than it is to have like the smartest people possible" - Mike
"at my most pessimistic I think all of that stuff is an elaborate trap to make sure that nobody can be blamed if the project goes wrong" - Mike
"There's a huge difference to the relationship you end up having with a group of people, or even just the conversations you have when you're being called a 'vendor' and when you're being a design studio" - Katie
"There's something about the process that makes it seem more like picking a commodity than on creating a relationship" - Katie
"A 'vendor' is somebody who sells you things, and its the things that have the value. A 'partner' is somebody who works with you, and its the working together that has the value" - Mike
"If you show up at an initial presentation with comps of what you're going to do for that company's site you are an idiot. You are an idiot. And you should be laughed at and you should be thrown out of the building and you should never get to call yourself a designer again, because what you're doing is making shit up out of your head and putting it in front of a client irresponsibly and passing that off as design work. You have no idea what they're trying to solve, you have no idea what their internal mechanics are, you have no idea where they're trying to go in the next two, three years. And yet somehow you've pulled a solution out of your ass. And then you have the balls to take it into a presentation and present this as 'this is how we think, this is what we think you should do'" - Mike
"I think 'let me tell you how we approach design, ' and you can actually say 'let me tell you how we'd approach your problem'" - Katie
"This is a goddamn endemic with designers. They are afraid to do the thing they know is right...I'll be sitting with a designer and going over some work and it looks dead. It looks like they don't know what they're doing. They're pushing their food around their plate. There's no joy in it, they're not trying things. And at some point they'll say something to the tune of 'well if I were doing this my way...' and I'll just say nothing and let that silence hang like a Mike Daisey apology interview, and eventually they'll realize what they just said, and they'll get back to work." - Mike
"It's a really sad form of self-censorship, and it kills designers because they do crap work, and its also incredibly unfair to people who hired you to do this work because they hired you to do the best work that you possibly can, and instead you think they could think of." - Mike
anyway, I could transcribe the whole episode or you could just take my advice and listen to the podcast. Also, don't follow @Mike_FTW on twitter, its a little too erratic.