The Glimmer Manifesto

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In that spirit, below is the Glimmer manifesto: Twelve uplifting lines, plucked from the book Glimmer: How design can transform your life and maybe even the world (Penguin Press). They are based on thoughts from Stefan Sagmeister, Cameron Sinclair, George Lois, Paula Scher, IDEO's Tim Brown and Jane Fulton Suri, Dean Kamen, and a big heaping helping of Bruce Mau (Glimmer's main subject).

A designer does not have the luxury of cynicism.
So sayeth Mau, adding that designers must never be cool and detached skeptics, but instead must be willing to be laughed at—willing to take the occasional pratfall in pursuit of grand and crazy dreams. "A cynical designer," Mau adds, "is a joke."

It is easier to react than to create.
This is Sagmeister's rejoinder to all who complain about being so busy with emails, tweets, and meetings. "Within that complaint is an excuse," he says, pointing out that most of us would rather answer another email than face the blank page.

You must keep moving away from what you know.
Mau's advice on how to become a more cross-disciplinary designer in a world that demands T-shaped problem-solvers Also, he notes, it's a good way to avoid resting on your laurels.

A designer's gotta have the guts to be truthful at all times.
In case you couldn't tell, that's George Lois talking about how the designer must be the one person in the room who is always willing to call bullshit. Even, Lois adds, "while everyone else is nodding their heads."

People don't fund problems, they fund solutions.
Cameron Sinclair, the founder of Architecture for Humanity, says that if you want to raise support to tackle the world's problems, you must first design potential solutions—and make them visible to people, even if only in sketches.

Many believe the world just is. Designers believe we can make the world be.
This observation from Jane Fulton Suri, a pioneer in bringing psychology to design, suggests that designers actually perceive reality differently from everyone else. And that maybe designers are a little crazy—but if so, it's a kind of crazy the world needs right now.

It can be helpful to think about an idea from a point of view that makes no sense.
This is Sagmeister again, talking about how to be original at a time when it seems everything has been done already. Think laterally, says Stefan; look at the world around you sideways or upside down. To hell with logic.

Through the act of making things, we discover ideas.
IDEO's Tim Brown, here talking about the power of prototyping to stimulate fresh thought. When just thinking isn't good enough, try "thinkering."

When you're totally unqualified for a job, that's when you do your best work.
I'm slightly paraphrasing Paula Scher, who actually said the above using the first person "I." Scher's point is that when you're an inexperienced outsider on any project, you are unburdened by conventional wisdom and can see things that the insiders and "experts" can't see.

The goal is to be an expert coming out, not going in.
Here Mau is making the case against too much upfront research. Go into a challenge a little bit blind and use the early stages for speculative thinking. There's always time for research later.

To bring about real change, you have to kiss a lot of frogs.
Dean Kamen's way of saying you must be willing to work your way through many sub-par ideas before you'll get to transformational ones. Kamen, by the way, thinks that as a society we've lost our taste for frogs. "We're not willing do the hard work and take the risks that are part of making progress."

When the world isn't working well, you have the makings of a great design project.
The final word, from Mau, which could also be put this way: There's never been a better time to be a designer because there is so much in need of better design.

Warren Berger is the author of Glimmer and the editor of the blog GlimmerSite.com

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