Designers as Professional Fools

Isn’t it incredible that I work as a professional fool? It’s a tough gig though. Sometimes I have a hard time explaining exactly what it is I do.

Professional fools are a necessity in a world that converges upon correct answers.

Fools look at adequately functioning systems and ask the darndest questions.

They’ll look at a perfectly functioning light switch and ask – “um… how would you find this in the dark?”.


Motion detected lighting.

Once, the guest of Naseruddin Hodja broke wind in his company and he hid its sound by loudly squeaking his shoe across the floor. “Good job on the squeak,” said Naseruddin. “but it still stinks to high heaven in here.”

If you’re a startup, that mindset is gold!

Alan Fletcher called it the art of looking sideways.

The Stanford Design Thinking program calls it the Ambiguity rule – a way for designers to stay fuzzy, see things differently.

But, being foolish doesn’t appeal to everyone.

Henry Ford knew this when he said, “Too many men are afraid of being fools.”

I understand its lack of appeal.

Personally speaking though, being a dumbass is kind of an integral skill in my line of work.