Design is deliberate
In one of my conversations with Dr. Edward de Bono he provided me with the best definition of design I have ever heard—which I subscribe to and abide by to this day. “Design is deliberate.”
It seems pretty simple, almost too simple. But whether you’re involved in developing an identity, or an app, or a business, or a city, or a system, or an experience, you are taking deliberate steps, making deliberate decisions towards a specific outcome. For businesses that have successfully become brands, they’ve done so deliberately by focusing on aligning their value proposition with the needs and desires of their customers. And they have responded deliberately—and with intent—to feedback received from the market.
Any design process is underpinned by a motivation to achieve a specific goal. In many cases, that motivation is to improve on—or to replace—what is currently in existence. But the premise is the same for most endeavours: What do I seek to achieve and what must I do to achieve it? Even asking those questions is a deliberate action, which is designed to pursue a particular outcome.
Design is a partnership between strategy (long-term objectives that can adapt as things develop) and tactics (the specific steps involved in implementing a strategy to achieve that goal). Both are deliberate, conscious and considered. But those steps aren’t necessarily linear. In entrepreneurial terms, pivoting and being agile are also deliberate decisions designed to move closer to an outcome in real time.
Similarly, bad design is also deliberate. Taking unnecessary short-cuts, disregarding advice or deciding not to seek the required information; these are deliberate decisions. Worse still, not caring or being lazy is also deliberate. These are choices which have been made. They didn’t happen by accident.
In the pursuit of achieving anything in life we are most often doing so deliberately—consciously or subconsciously. The steps we take, or the choices we avoid, are deliberate, which should make the process more fruitful and the outcome more meaningful. Ultimately, being aware of how we make decisions is essential in deliberately designing a way forward.