I’m a new dad. 9 months ago, my daughter was introduced to Frozen, and she’s now officially hooked. For all the parents who are reading this, you know what that means. All kidding aside, I’m pretty amazed that at just 14 months’ old, she managed to catch the Frozen bug so fast. I suppose that's the magic of Disney. Ironically though, when reflecting on the last few months, I couldn’t help but notice that designers and the industry could learn a thing or two from this movie. I'll point out a couple of them here.
A quick disclaimer: I’m going to assume you’ve all seen the movie and can relate to what I share below. If not, watch the movie. I think you’ll like it. Plus, it will make this post a bit more relatable.
So what can we learn from Frozen?
In the movie, when everyone was trying to contain Elsa's "gift", it backfired. The same applies to creativity. It just can’t be contained. You have to let it run wild through your organization in order for it to build something wonderful. Containing creativity (or the creatives) only makes the organization frustrated. It leads to subpar ideas and a team that fears unleashing their wildest ideas. That can put you behind of your competitors and even ensure that you’re never really innovating like you need to.
If you are a designer who works in an organization, runs a creative team, or is brought into work as a consultant at a company, you have to be open to sharing your ideas with others across the organization. This will ensure that folks begin to respect the value of what you and your team are trying to create for them. Designers and ideas can’t live in seclusion; they need to be shared with everyone. That is the only way they can be shaped. Throughout this process of shaping and sharing, you'll receive added respect and appreciation for your magical gift of being a designer and problem solver.
Don't be afraid to push your organization, even if that means you need to blow up the project and start over from the beginning. You never know, the risk may be worth it. It sure worked for the writers of Frozen. Supposedly, they rewrote the entire movie after they heard the song "Let It Go", and the rest is history. So the risk can pay off if enough people get behind the new idea to help shape it even further. You have ideas too. Don’t be afraid to speak up. You’re doing nobody a favor by keeping it from them.
I think the worst thing in an organization is when people just can't let go of things. Whether it's ideas, bad clients, or control of the tiny things. Yes, letting go is hard, but it's necessary to forgive and have trust in your team in order to evolve beyond where you are today. It's important not to micro-manage or focus on all those small things. Not only does micro-management result in negative energy, you also run the risk of losing sight of the big picture, stripping your team from their core strengths, and weakening their confidence. You must trust.
Do you remember the moment when you first met Olaf? I do, and I welcomed it. He was so refreshing. Without Olaf, Frozen would have little humor. Olaf made the movie come alive for many. He made it airy, lovable, and less serious at times. All of this is to say, don’t forget to have fun, even in the most serious and stressful of times.
At the end of the day, designing is a process that needs to be fun for all. It needs to feel light and collaborative for your team members and clients, whenever possible. Everyone is trying to reach the same goal, and there’s no reason that we can’t practice letting go of our opinions in favor of someone else’s. We owe it to ourselves to let go of our ego, unleash our ideas, and let them form in ways that are out of our control. By doing that we can achieve the best solutions and have fun in the process – and after all, that is what we are being paid to do.
So what do you think? Have you seen the movie? Are there any takeaways that you’ve pulled from it? Let’s continue the discussion on Twitter.