Richard Saul Wurman, the creator of the TED conference took the stage with an unusual panache. After halting the announcer’s introduction, he asked the audience to move forward and fill the front rows. Richard (Richie, or Mr. Wurman as he prefers) then went onto a stream-of-consciousness speech about his conception of the TED conference, his personal work habits, his previous projects, and his new book titled ‘33‘.
Aside from a movie clip at the beginning of his talk (which he also asked to halt), he had no slide-deck or any supporting material of any kind. Despite the lack of structure and wandering delivery, Mr. Wurman related to his experiences in design and dispensed several personal lessons to the eager audience.
When talking about the TED conference, Mr. Wurman attributed its success to a void in the conference circuit that he spotted in the early 80’s. He saw interesting conversations began every time people from the Technology, Entertainment and Design industries met. Mostly of us would have been perfectly content with inviting the same people to our summer parties and enjoy the company. Mr. Wurman, however, took his insight a step further than most people. With his business acumen, tenacity and persistence, the TED conference grew from the little known gathering in 1983 to the world-renounced annual gathering of the minds today.
In several other occasion, Mr. Wurman urged designers to be honest. He stressed the importance of being brutally honest to ourselves, the problem that we tackle and illogical solutions that we have come to accept. He asked us to question ‘logical but stupid’ and ‘fundamentally flawed’ decisions in the world and learn to be precise in our thinking.
Last but not least, Mr. Wurman told the audience that greatest skills that he possesses is the acceptance of his own ignorance. Designers are often put in the place to introduce change and create solutions that affect many people. The ability to remain humble and by extension, remain curious and empathetic to people whom we affect, may indeed be the greatest skills of all.
(.. final part to follow)