KEY TAKEAWAY: If you are a lawyer who devises a negotiation strategy or a contract for a client, a parent who plans the family vacation, a CEO who needs to re-invent her company, a musician creating a score for a film...you are, essentially, hoping to created situations that are preferable to the ones currently existing, so take comfort in the fact that you are designer already.
Herbert A. Simon is one of my favorite thinkers of the 20th century, and wrote one of my favorite books of all time, "The Sciences of the Artificial", which focuses primarily in artificial intelligence. How's this relevant to design? Well, when I first started flirting with world of design (about 5 years ago), I went back to the 1950s and 1960s, to identify who were the "design thinkers" of that time. Primary because I figured they must've been really good, as that was a time when there was so much technological progress - urbanization and space exploration, to name a two important ones. The book has an entire chapter dedicated to design alone ("The Science of Design: Creating the Artificial") and the quote below, which completely transformed me, with-in and with-out, possibly marked a turning point of my life: after reading it, I just "knew" that design, as Herbert and other classic design thinkers though of it, would be central to anything I did in my life forever thereafter. It was around this time that my vision for ReSet started to take shape.
By the way, don't be thrown off by the word "artificial". As you read the book, it becomes evident that Herbert refers to design as the science of the "artificial" because, in his view design, unlike natural sciences, for example, is concerned with the creation of that which doesn't yet exist, and therefore, "artificial" (e.g., artificial intelligence). He places design at the heart of what he sees as the the interface of inner (natural, existing) and outer (artificial, or not-yet existing) worlds (or, in the case of machines, "inner" is the machine's hardware and "outer" is the output that the machine creates).
Ultimately, the process of design is, in his view, what makes the harmony between these two "worlds" possible.
The book is packed with gems, but I leave you with one of my favorite excerpts from the chapter on design below...
"Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient or the one that devises a new sales plan for a company or a social welfare policy for a state. Design, so construed, is the core of all professional training; it is the principal mark that distinguishes the professions from the sciences. Schools of engineering, as well as schools of architecture, business, education, law, and medicine, are all centrally concerned with the process of design...The natural sciences are concerned with how things are...Design, on the other hand, is concerned with how things ought to be, with devising artifacts to attain goals."
About the Author
Hi. I am Laura Simão. I am the creator ReSet Studio, and the author of this blog. I am a developer or businesses and of people. I built my career in business development, design thinking and finance/investing. I also teach design thinking and business design at Parsons School of Design, in NYC. In my work I seek to empower people to redesign their thinking and ask better questions, to lead better lives and build better businesses. Ultimately, I want to give them superpowers. I am guided by the belief that the quality of our life, and of our world is not determined by the answers we give but by the questions we ask.
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