This Is the One Skill Designers Need to Develop Most in 2020

Legendary designer Don Norman takes designers to task for elevating craft above all else, when what matters most is the willingness to collaborate

Fast Company
Fast Company
Published in
6 min readJan 9, 2020

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By Don Norman

In his annual Design in Tech report in 2019, my good friend and design visionary John Maeda declared that “design is not that important.” He is wrong, but also correct. Let me explain.

In his assessment, Maeda is not damning design — he is damning the wrong kind of designer. For technology companies, the wrong kind of designer can be pernicious, but the right kind of design (and designer) is essential.

Let me start by rephrasing his declaration to cover every discipline inside a company — marketing, sales, technology, manufacturing, service, etc. — where any one discipline is “X.” What Maeda was saying was that “‘X’ is not that important.” He is correct. Every discipline is important to the company (or else they wouldn’t be there), but no single aspect of a company is the most important. The best products are made by a collaborative team.

Maeda’s descriptions of designers forcing their will upon the company is an example of designers who put themselves above all others. This is bad, he…

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Fast Company
Fast Company

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