top of page

Dreaming and Designing.

Designing brings form to the formless. Designing is the action of dreaming. Designing is about making things and making things better. Dreaming and designing are two sides of the same coin.

I remember when my inquisitive 5 year-old daughter was watching me doodling in my Moleskin sketchbook. She asked me what I was drawing. I replied “an idea”. Then she asked me “where do ideas come from”? I replied, “They come from inside my head”. She proceeded to give me a funny face look and then she asked, “How do they get in there Daddy”?

Out of the mouths of babes, indeed – how do they get in there?

Throughout my life, I’ve been completely fascinated with turning nothing into something valuable and desired.

Creativity is what separates human beings from everything else on this planet. From stone tools to our modern technology, ideas, inspirations, and flashes of insight has been the genesis of every innovation humans have ever conceived.

First it has to be a dream, and then it has to be designed.

Dreaming and designing is the activity that turns nothing into something, creating new value where there was none before.

There’s Nothing New Under The Sun

Everything that is comes from something else that was. While it’s fashionable to proclaim innovate or die, great innovations are borrowed from other ideas that came before.

For example, the idea of a printing press came to Gutenberg while he was watching the movements of a wine press–and humanity was forever changed.

Many organizations struggle to be innovative in ways that are game-changers for their long-term success. Rather than developing a deeper and richer understanding of what people really care about, many companies innovate around themselves, bringing to market incremental innovation produced within a familiar knowledge base and within strict cost structures.

Enlightened organizations are dreaming and designing around life experiences and meanings rather than competitive or functional features and benefits. Innovation is more about proposing new meanings rather than new things. To do this well requires you wander outside of what you know and look for related patterns from other sources that provide the spark of inspiration.

Dreaming Is Messy

Organizations that are transactional and performance driven have a difficult time dreaming. It’s messy and unpredictable.

These organizations are more comfortable operating within the boundaries of known protocols and past experience. The premium is placed on what has worked for the masses in the past. The trouble with this line of thinking is nothing from the 20th century is working too well in the 21st.

Imagination is one of the most illusive and mysterious of the human faculties. When we are dreaming up new ideas, we are playing in the realm of the formless. Performance-driven-metrics-obsessed organizations need solid form – tangibility and predictable results.

Our imagination doesn’t work in strict linear patterns of cause and effect. Ideas are formless thought seeds, the result of unfocused attention and idle daydreaming.

Those organizations that master their collective imaginations and change the world are quite comfortable working with the unformed and the unknown – the messy business of creating value.

Designing Is The Imagination Taking Form

Much has been written about design thinking. Breakaway organizations like IDEO have made the principle of design thinking their stock and trade. To quote, noted author Marty Neumeier “if you are going to innovate, you’re going to have to design”.

Dreaming and designing are two sides of the same coin. Designing brings form to formless dreaming. Designing is the action of dreaming. Designing is about making things and making things better.

In every activity and human endeavor, the process of design will bring order, simplicity and beauty to the complex problems facing 7+ billion human beings living on this little blue dot we call our home.

The people who create solutions to the big problems facing us today will be dreamers and designers – entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, artists, educators, philosophers and anyone who is seriously dreaming about designing the means to elevate our collective life experience.

So where will the big ideas come from that will elevate our human experience? From anyone and anywhere. All of us have the capability to transform our world with our imagination and our visualizations, if only we give ourselves permission to try.


If you found this post helpful, please subscribe to the blog.

26 views0 comments


bottom of page