Linn Vizard on We are Here: Designer as Map Maker

Linn Vizard from Bridgeable opened with a quote from Herbert Simon, “Design is moving from existing situations to preferred situations.” I’ve always liked that quote but then she raised the bar by moving on to Buchanan’s orders of design and Stratification of Design Thinking by Stefanie di Russo. I knew right away that this was going to be an interesting talk.

Her presentation was built around a simple observation. Service designers use empathy maps, journey maps, stakeholder maps; all kinds of maps. Why are we making so many things called “maps”? There’s a proliferation of maps in the designer toolkit. But why? Maps are tools to wrangle complexity; they’re representations.

Designers are map-makers. They make the invisible visible and the implicit explicit. They reveal the gaps as knowledge is made tangible.

I especially liked the formulation that “all models are wrong but some are useful” from George E. P. Box. The map is not the territory but some people confuse the model with the reality. How do we equip our clients to understand our intent? There’s an important distinction between mapping to understand (synthesize) and mapping to communicate.

She pointed us toward an article entitled “Don’t Make a Journey Map” by Shahrzad Samadzadeh. What do we intend to design for? What are we hoping to achieve?

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