The Wall Street Journal Praises Tim Gunn

I've enjoyed watching Project Runway over the years.  Some years there are designers I root for.  Other years I get especially annoyed by the drama.   Every season I'm fascinated by the creative process.  And I'm a bit smitten with Tim Gunn.  He such a wonderful mentor and I'm always impressed by his guidance.  He's one of the reasons I watch the show, season after season.  

It appears I'm not alone.

In October of 2017, The Wall Street Journal published an article called, "Seven TV Shows Every Executive Should Watch" by Alexandra Samuel.   The subtitle was "What you can learn from Tim Gunn, 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine', 'The Young Pope' and more."

You can access the article through this link.   Since I'm not certain how many of you have a subscription to the WSJ, I thought I'd transcribe the section about Tim Gunn here on my blog.  I think the author was spot-on in describing what is so special and effective about Tim Gunn's help in the work room.  (She also makes an interesting observation about the creative process. too.)  We could all benefit from Tim Gunn's critical review and feedback process in our lives.  (The excerpt, photo and image caption below were all taken from the article updated on October 27, 2017.)

Tim Gunn offers a master class in giving feedback on 'Project Runway'. PHOTO: BRAVO TV/EVERETT COLLECTION
Project Runway:  This long-running reality show is a laboratory for the creative process, since each season challenges a group of fashion designers to create a new outfit every single week.  One week they might be asked to create a ready-to-wear ensemble for a working woman, while the next week they have to assemble an outfit out of materials they collect at a hardware store.  Each week's aesthetic mandate and materials list offers a reminder of the value of constraints in fostering creativity: The best designs often emerge from the challenges that offer the least flexibility.  The other key ingredient? Skilled mentorship.

The mentorship comes from Tim Gunn, who provides feedback on each designer's work in progress -- and can teach any executive how to give better feedback.

Step 1: Before providing feedback on someone's work, check in on their goals.  Mr. Gunn always begins by asking what the designer is trying to achieve, so that his feedback is keyed to supporting their vision, rather than his own.

Step 2: Share your most important resource -- your professional history and experience.  Mr. Gunn's feedback often consists of pointing out when someone is echoing the work of a designer they may not know about, or if they're trying to execute a design that won't be feasible with their chosen fabric.

Step 3: If you've got negative feedback, articulate the problem directly, and then invite -- but don't impose -- a solution.  When Mr. Gunn sees that someone's in trouble, he tells them exactly what the issue is, and then points them in a direction to find their own solution.  If you want to deliver feedback that is candid and effective -- without being unkind -- this show is a master class.