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One Minute Insight

Hiking The “Mount Stupid” as Designers

Ever learned something cool and you felt like an expert immediately?

“Wow, HTML is so easy. I believe I can master Python in just a week.”

“I’ve just read these principles from this website. We should redesign our app.”

“Do you know tomatoes are not vegetable?”

Nowadays, we are flooded with information. Don’t know how to cook spaghetti? Just Google it. Want to start investing? Spend a dozen of minutes in Youtube and voila, you feel like you have mastered the art of economy. Moreover, there’s a feeling of achievement after you’ve done learning / watching them.

What comes after that? The sense of superiority. You know something others (possibly) don’t. You feel the need to share, to execute. You don’t want the ideas stop within you.

As creative people, we have heard of imposter syndrome and one moment in our life we must have experienced them. The work of a teammate is better than yours. The research result is unsatisfactory and self-doubt starts showing up. This, in return, fill us up with the instinct of continuous learning. Devour any podcasts, webinars, blog posts, and other learning sources we can, as today should always be better than yesterday.

This, in return, only highlight the need of learning, not understanding.

And then we come to Dunning-Kruger effect, or in the simple explanation, mount stupid.

Design trends come and go. In this rapid-changing world, there are new method, style, or principle we learn every week. With them, comes reviews and stories from fellow practitioners that guarantee with their success stories.

For example, when Design Sprint first became famous around this half of decade, many companies suggest to implement them almost immediately. This was a good sign that people are open with new things, but the problem is people were eager to start without mastering the concept first. This resulted in many articles that state the Design Sprint is not effective and just a waste of time.

Now, this trend continues in conversational onboarding and more recently, neumorphism.

Not all execution will come with positive and impactful results, but when it’s poorly prepared, you will be guaranteed with wasted time, resource, and money.

How to start hiking the mount stupid

From my experience, the hardest part is knowing you don’t know that much. This can be a challenge because sometimes the imposter syndrome will come knocking. But it can’t be helped, admitting your weakness is a starting point to achieve greater result.

When you already feel that you may be in the top of “mount stupid”, here’s what I suggest to do:

  1. Realise your level of knowledge and move on
    “What else I can learn from this?”. Feeling of superiority comes with the expectation that you’ve mastered everything there is. Learning there are more to discover is a good way to step back to reality. It’s also a good thing to learn from more than one resource.
  2. Share with the intention to start a discussion.
    Having a discussion, especially with something you just learn, is fun. Even when your teammates haven’t heard of it before, a fresh perspective can be an objective way to measure the impact of the idea. Also, it can be a reflection of how well you’ve learned it.
  3. Challenge the idea itself.
    Being skeptical sometimes is a good thing. We must put some confidence in ourself with our experiences and previous learnings on how well the topic will solve the problem. By challenging it, you can discover what feels missing and learn more from it. Different products come with different planning and executions, and you can improve the idea by adjusting it with the way you work.


It will be always nice to explore new things everyday, and it will be better if our knowledge from different experience complements each other. That way, we can grow better as designers.

As we are now, maybe we have been at the other end where our teammate is experiencing the mount stupid. Be a good friend and don’t judge them immediately. Who knows, maybe we can learn better that way.

Have you ever experienced mount stupid? How did you realise and start hiking? Tell in the comments, or chat with me in linkedin



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