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In Trial Presentation - A Camel is a Horse Designed by Committee

Ken Lopez
By: Ken Lopez

Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Management, Leadership


There is an old expression that a camel is a horse designed by committee.

The expression means that when many individuals design something as a group, every imaginable feature will go into the finished product – and it will end up with many important features. But the product will have lost its beauty – and sometimes will have lost some of its usefulness as a complete entity.

Working with trial teams to create a trial presentation can sometimes feel a bit like designing a horse and ending up with a camel. Many people provide lots of input on a particular presentation and sometimes, it ends up that too many features have been added to a single trial presentation. Unless a strong leader seizes control and dictates the final content, the project can go in any number of directions at once, and it may fail to be as outstanding a product as it can be.

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An easy business comparison is Apple. There, great design is at the core of the company's success and has made it the most valuable company in the world.  Since the 1990s, the man behind this great design is London-born designer Jonathan Ive. Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, has been responsible since 1996 for leading a design team widely regarded as one of the world’s best. Ive has been said to have “the obsessive desire to create products that are meaningful to people.”

Ive is ultimately responsible for the design of the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.  It was he who brought the great designs to Steve Jobs for his consideration. Jobs would pick among Ive’s proposed designs. Fortunately for us, Jobs was right most of the time.  What we never see from Apple, however, are all the rejected designs.

At A2L, we see ourselves as the Jonathan Ive of a trial team, constantly bringing great trial presentation ideas and prototypes forward with the hope that the first chair litigator will see something that he or she likes.  In my experience, the stronger the leader, the more likely it is that a good trial presentation design approach will be selected and the camel-like result avoided.

Our recommended approach when lots of individuals need to provide input on a project is simple. Everyone has a voice, but only one person has a vote.

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