A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being in Riga, Latvia for SAF’s annual sales meeting. Latvia is a beautiful place with a fascinating history and an exciting future. If you have the chance to visit, I recommend taking the opportunity and I’ll gladly share my experience there with anyone who asks. Today, however, I’m writing about something different.
During the course of our 3 days of meetings, our CEO, Normunds Bergs, gave a great presentation on SAF’s design philosophy. His presentation was centered around SAF’s name badges. When I first received my new badge here at SAF, I didn’t give it a lot of thought. It’s simple, with a large picture of the employee, the employee’s name, and the company logo on both sides. The lanyard is a single piece of fabric with one twist, looped through the top of the badge. The single twist allows it to hang neatly around your neck and you can slip it into a pocket without too much trouble. There’s a picture of it at the top of this page.
This badge was used as an illustration to explain SAF’s design philosophy. Normunds pulled out a whole host of clips, lanyards, reels, and badges to show us.
For anyone who’s worked in a large organization or been to a trade show or conference, these are all familiar. These are generally of the one-sided variety and are attached via a reel or lanyard with little metal clips. For some reason, the badge is almost invariably blank side out when worn. The strings on those reels break. The clips break. The clips break the thin plastic holding the badge. The annoyance is minor, and we just grab a new lanyard or plastic sleeve from the pile that we’ve accumulated over the years. We don’t give it much thought and do nothing to address the root of the problem. But SAF does. And did.
This annoyance frustrated our founder, so he designed the name badge I described above. No one was making the one-piece lanyards he wanted, so he had them made. It’s about the simplest, most effective design possible. It took some time to come up with. It took more time to implement. All for a name badge. But this philosophy, this relentless pursuit of simplicity permeates SAF’s culture. This approach applies to our microwave radios, our test tools, and the software that complements these products. It’s a difficult way to approach design. It takes a lot of time and effort. It requires a vigilant, critical eye and has no room for personal ego. The results? Incredibly reliable radios, spectrum analyzers that are as easy to use as multimeters, and software that’s elegant, intuitive, and useful. It’s what SAF does, and it makes me proud to be a part of this company.