Benevolent Dictator

Mills Baker wrote a great post about why compromise can be such a dirty word when it comes to getting things done. He starts off by giving the example of why compromise in government inevitably leads to stagnation:

…a real effect of compromise is that it prevents intact ideas from being tested and falsified. Instead, ideas are blended with their antitheses into policies that are “no one’s idea of what will work,” allowing the perpetual political regurgitation, reinterpretation, and relational stasis that defines the governance of the United States.

While this an astute, if depressing, summary of compromise and its effects in governance the rest of his post is actually a very compelling explanation of how compromise ruins good designs and weakens the outcomes of projects. I really enjoy Baker’s thoughts and find them to be true through anecdotal experience and observation. For instance:

…the creative arts are not so subjective as we tend to think, which is why a talented, dictatorial auteur will produce better work than polls, focus groups, or hundreds of compromising committees.

Despite the good points from this post I do think that collaboration is essential to success in most endeavors, especially large complex ones. The question is how to collaborate while staying true to the vision that the designer, author, director has put forth? I don’t know the secret to this but I do think that dividing a project into chunks and frequent candid non-presentational discussions to refocus on the overriding vision are essential elements.