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Book Review: Subject to Change

Find Out For Yourself


"If you want to study something, it's better not to know what the answer is."

I was reading the essay "Find Out For Yourself" by Shunryu Suzuki today when I was struck with a sudden thought: we can be better designers when we don't know what we're doing.

Many of us were attracted to the field of design specifically to make art. Then, somewhere along the way -- especially after having so much energy placed in making artifacts, not art -- our perception of what it meant to be a designer broadened. We became competent in creating specific kinds of artifacts. We mastered specific domains of expression.

But that didn't mean that we designed better artifacts. It's human insight that grounds and infuses design work that creates meaningful change in our society.

Making is not a direct substitute for generating meaning in design. But the process of making can lead to meaning, and our minds must be open to receive it. I've heard this described as "abductive" design thinking -- which in plain English boils down to being able to extrapolate solutions from limited information.

You can seek out that insight before creating your design, if you have the tools. If you don't, then you can start designing. But if you want to use your time wisely -- not efficiently, mind you -- you should practice agile design.

This is an excerpt from the final lecture for this quarter of 80 Works. Continue reading "Find Out For Yourself" on the 80 Works blog.


Mark Notermann

Love the graphic for this entry!!

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