## Design is a confusing word ### Design is a confusing word Design is a confusing word. Previously, it used to mean the making of things. When a carpenter makes a bench, he is intentionally designing the bench. The architect is designing the studio. ^24f13e Things started getting a bit tricky when design started getting used both as a noun and a verb. Design was not just the making of things, but the **reasoning** behind how things were made. Design was the reasoning from function to form. Initially, we used the D-word (design) for physical products. Furnitures, tools, objects and everything in between. When we started shifting to digital products, we started using the same language to describe digital things. When we started building connected products which blended the physical and digital interfaces, the language continued. We slowly started extending the scope of design. Or rather, designers started extending the scope of what design should mean or represent. We started applying design to design the strategy of a company. We started applying design for toppling governments. We started applying design for creating services. We even used design to design checklists used by pilots before they start their flight. Checklists. Buildings. Strategy. Language. Curriculums. Cars. Politics. It was everywhere. We then started clustering them all together under the umbrella of 'design thinking'. The word became too broad, cliched and dilute. It became one of THOSE buzzwords — such as the word 'sustainable development' in topics related to environment. Or the word 'blockchain-based' when it comes to matters on privacy or security. It slowly started corralling followers who identified with design thinking. And yet, at the same time, it started losing its meaning in this process. Are all problem solvers essentially designers? Aren't we as adults solving problems in some way or the other. But then how broad does this definition of design encompass? Where do the boundaries emerge? I asked this question to Jax Cooksey, former director at IDEO and now heading Noora Labs division of [[Noora Health]] — What do you look for while hiring designers to Noora Labs. She mentioned a couple of pointers which has stuck to me ever since. Agility — Designers are hired for their mindset. While we solve multi-disciplinary problems, things break and fail. A good designer should know to make things fast. They should know how to make quick prototypes. Agility to reflect on the prototypes and quickly learn from it is a skill which needs to be looked out for. Thriving in beautiful mess — The initial part of any project where things are just shaping up is a beautiful mess to begin with. Things are messy, broken, unstructured, complex, fuzzy and circuitous. Harder part of this phase is that the problems themselves are not well defined. The why behind the why we formulate. People involved in this phase have to navigate this beautiful mess and structure the problems to work on. Designers mindset is important as they thrive in this beautiful mess and make the best of it. Show, not tell — Ideas are only as good as our ability to communicate them. As designers navigate the fuzzy front end of any innovation, there is a need to communicate complex and overwhelming ideas into neatly distilled chunks. At my previous role with Noora Labs, my manager did a breakdown of the complex health education platform we were working on into neatly structured flow chart. It was initially not clear in my mind, but once that visual was formulated, everything made sense. Good designers show and not just tell.