When brains build bridges: What it really means to be a designer

TL;DR: Design — when defined through a clear lens — helps reveal new ways for anyone to call him- or herself a designer. And when design becomes everyone’s concern, teams can come one step closer to attaining success…and one giant leap closer to defining exactly what success means at any given moment.

What is a designer?

A designer is anyone who gives form to an idea

Identifying the keywords

  1. anyone
  2. gives…to
  3. form
  4. an
  5. idea

Empathy required; resilience highly recommended

Playing the role of Designer is not for everyone, nor must it be. But design need not be the practice of a select few, either. Any single person is as capable of being a successful designer as another. The only barrier to entry should therefore be recognized as possessing an ability to act upon the human emotion of empathy.

Design is a gift

A designer may seem rather limited in what she can do: give. But that which is given must be received; and the proper gift received forms a bond unattainable by any other means.

Form must welcome, not prohibit

There are several ways an idea is given form. A few include: written, spoken, visualized, programmed, sensed, conveyed, implied, or assumed. It is this unique trait that enables anyone who passes the above test to become a designer, often completely by accident.

Navigate complexity to discover multiple singularities

Ideas may seem simple, but each one is likely to have several — often hundreds of — facets, each requiring a novel approach to deliver form that is well-received by a subject. Therefore, it is simultaneously most important and most difficult for a designer to focus on giving form to one idea at a time. She must continually adjust her viewpoint so she does not miss a single facet of the idea that requires consideration.

When brains build bridges

Ideas are the result of a largely recursive process: our brain must struggle to create the flickering illusion of a world that is marginally more appealing than the one currently occupied, wherein our brain is constantly struggling. An idea requires significant thought to coalesce and to become actualized. Sometimes the majority of thought is spent generating the aforementioned illusion. Other times the opposite is true: an idea coalesces with little struggle, but actualizing it takes serious thought. When an idea transforms from illusion to existence, a designer has successfully constructed a bridge connecting two worlds. The hard part, oddly enough, is convincing others to cross that bridge.

Any ideas?

Enjoy this article? You owe it to yourself to watch this video from a man who I consider one of Earth’s finest persons, Mike Monteiro:

Let Us Now Praise Ordinary People

Description (from Vimeo):
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Everywhere you turn, companies are promising to change the world. But when the people already on top promise to change the world, you have to wonder how and for whom. The how isn’t usually in your benefit, and the for whom isn’t usually for you. The world is working exactly as they’ve designed it to work. So if we really want to change it, we need to change not just how we design it, but who is designing it.