Thoughts on Richard Saul Wurman’s Why Design Now talk

Richard Saul Wurman, author of “Information Architects” and founder of the TED conference, spoke at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum‘s “Why Design Now” event. This is that talk.

Wurman emphasizes that so much is designed, even the questions that we ask. To illustrate, at one point he asked Bill Moggridge, who was attending as the new director of the Cooper-Hewitt, how old he is. Bill answered the question, and Wurman pointed out, “Now we all know your age, but you know nothing new.” His point is that the power is in the question, not the answer.

That is worth ruminating on. From a design perspective, coming up with good questions to understand a problem is often difficult. It takes dialogue and exploration and work before you get to the good questions. And then you begin to understand the problem better. Wurman also points out in this talk that organizations too often jump to action before they really understand the problem.

Wurman packs a lot, including some humor, into this short talk. It’s worth watching.