As in motorcycles, so in design

There probably aren’t many jobs that can be reduced to rule-following and still be done well. But in many jobs there is an attempt to do just this, and the perversity of it may go unnoticed by those who design the work process. Mechanics face something like this problem in the factory service manuals that we use. These manuals tell you to be systematic in eliminating variables, presenting an idealized image of diagnostic work. But they never take into account the risks of working on old machines. So you put the manual away and consider the facts before you. You do this because ultimately you are responsible to the motorcycle and its owner, not to some procedure.

Matthew B Crawford, highly educated motorcycle mechanic and author

The whole essay’s really worth a read and I’m going to trot out and buy his book immediately. (Metaphorically, at least—doubt it’s in stock in Austria.)


  1. I’m always drawn to motorcycles as a metaphor for design restrictions being capable of creating great things.

    Now if I could just design my website like a Ducati… 😀

  2. Rainer says:

    It’s the people without imagination that are trying to eliminate creativity in our work processes all around.

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