Recently, I watched someone try to wash his hands after using some public toilet. He struggled with the task, unable to get the water to flow, until I felt designer pain creep up my fingers. I needed to speak to the Teacher about this.
As soon as I could, I went up the hill to the place where the Teacher lives. He greeted me with tea and patiently heard my tale. Then he said: “You are smart, you have gained insight. Now you need to gain outsight.”
I sipped my tea while he chuckled for a while.
After minutes of mirth, I asked: “Outsight?”
Smiling, he answered: “You must think about what you have seen.”
“I have asked myself: why it was made harder than it needed to be.” I answered.
“You know,” the Teacher asked “how designing is like walking along a path?”
“A path with no name!”
“Until you name it, yes. Now, do you go this path alone?”
“No, of course not.”
“So, who goes with you?”
“The user,” I stated confidently.
“The user and the designer? And nobody else?”
“Who else?” I asked, confidence sapped.
“The people who set the prices and the timetables, for example.”
“They should help along on the way.”
“Open doors for you, smooth the path?”
“Now who do you think decides which path will be travelled?”
My eyes went wide as I understood: “The stakeholders! But it should be the designer, with the user!”
“Even though it it is theirs to begin with? How many doors do you think a stakeholder has to choose from, when opening them for you?”
“He, I, eerm…”
“They often live in corridors. How many doors are there at the end of a corridor.”
“See. The path is mysterious even there:
Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.
THE TAO TEH KING, OR THE TAO AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS – by Lao-Tse, Translated by James Legge
What was your question again?”
“Why it was made harder than it needed to be.”
“Oh, I remember. Given the doors, I think they made it as easy as they could. Did your user succeed in the end?”
“I guess. He looked around for a way to dry his hands when I left.”