Tiago Forte: Designing a Better Life


“Designers are practical philosophers. When you go deep into design, you go really deep! You’re talking about what is the nature of reality? What is the nature of what it means to be human? What does it mean for a tool to have a use? This goes back to the most philosophical and ancient questions that we have and at the same time the philosophy of design is totally practical. 

The deepest philosophy can be (and should be) expressed in the design of a door handle, a tea cup, or the way you design a button in a software program. That’s really the ultimate test. You can talk a big game and be very intellectually entertaining in the philosophical concepts that you talk about, but it doesn’t really make a difference in the world, or more importantly have a positive impact on people’s lives until it is something useful – until it has a practice and a function – and that’s what design is. It’s the joining of the philosophical and the practical with a long tradition of people that have been thinking, writing and practicing what it means to design tables, chairs, and more recently, software programs and devices. 

Anytime I’m stuck trying to solve a problem, I jump into the world of design because design is so powerful that it can be abstracted to anything. If you can define or describe how to design a database, that can be abstracted to how do you design any kind of information. And we can use that to design our blog posts, a piece of artwork, a conversation, or a dinner. Everything is information. If you have the powers of abstraction and learning from diverse fields, keeping track of your knowledge, self awareness, and self understanding, you can learn from the diverse fields and pull together that knowledge you’ve obtained and implement it with design.” 

On this episode, I welcome Tiago Forte whose ideas have transformed my worldview and particularly, how I approach my work and define productivity. He believes that the goals of companies and their employees are fundamentally aligned around human-centered productivity. This belief guides his work as the founder of Forte Labs, creator of the Productive by Design™ methodology, and editor of the Praxis online publication. Tiago draws on his background in design and technology to help knowledge workers apply design thinking to day-to-day productivity challenges.

Tiago’s Favorite Books: 


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