Wondering, wandering, and making sense of the world.


Archive for October, 2010

Everyone designer

Last weekend, I had the fortune and pleasure to be able to present at TEDxNHH in Bergen, Norway. The organizers, mostly students from NHH, did an amazing job putting together the one-day event, and the other speakers they acquired were incredible. I’m still humbled to have been amongst such accomplished thinkers and doers.

In my talk, building on top of Fred Dust’s talk at TEDxBerkeley, I claimed that everyone in the world needs to be a designer (or more accurately, design thinkers) and get better at it. Then in the spirit of being interactive and doing, I launched the entire audience of about 350 people into a design challenge to be completed after the event. 18 minutes was simply too short to do any kind of breakout activity that I like to do in workshops. I don’t know how many people will actually start or complete the challenge, but they were motivated by a exotic Lithuanian candy bar that the organizers of the TEDxNHH put under the every seat along with the instructions.

Of course the design challenge is not limited to the TEDxNHH audience, so I would like to introduce it here as well. The .pdf version of what was printed is here.

The TEDxNHH Design Challenge

  • Find someone or some group of people to design for

The core of design is to make the lives of people better. Find someone or some group of people
whose life you want to improve.

  • Interview, Observe, Empathize

In order to truly understand the needs of your user/users, engage him/her/them in order to gain a deep empathy.

  • Ideate

Come up with as many ideas as possible, going beyond the obvious. Don’t be afraid of (and don’t judge) wild ideas.

  • Define what you want to accomplish

Create a focused actionable problem statement for your challenge, i.e. “Create the best damn X experience for Y.”

  • Prototype and Test

Start expressing your ideas as prototypes and bring it to your user/users to test them.

  • Repeat

Return to any step as you see necessary. Design is never done, it’s just due.

… and Have Fun!

This is very much an introductory challenge to what we do, and there is a deep science and art to what we do. To learn more about each of these steps, the at Stanford University makes available for free the Bootcamp Bootleg which is a treasure trove of methods and mindsets.

Lastly, since we’re in the world of social everything, if you want to share your results, use the twitter hashtag #everyonedesigner or if you don’t have an account or rather stay anonymous, e-mail it to and I will try to get it up somewhere.

Happy designing!


Design vs Design Thinking

Photographed at my school:

Because the man and woman’s bathrooms aren’t next to each other (they are around the corner from each other), it’s really hard to tell which is which from the original signs.


What is a career anyway?

A predetermined procession of jobs that was defined by those who came before you?

A specific set of skills and abilities that define who you are in the world?

Who is to say that the same progression of jobs will exist in the future? How will you know that the same set of skills and abilities are needed in the future?

I’m not suggesting that it’s not important to consider the future in what you do or your job choices. At the same time, what you do and your job choices should not be solely for an unpredictable future. It takes a certain amount of courage to depart from the well worn path, but it’s more likely exciting that way.

As for me, I’m stringing together a collection of interesting experiences and calling it a career. It’s been a fulfilling yet very rocky adventure so far. Let’s see where I end up next.


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