How giving a f%#! about growing green onions made me a better designer.

Let me tell you a story about growing green onions and the danger of not caring. Bear with me, we’ll get there.

I’m a designer, not a farmer.

Indeed you are! As a designer and a leader I’ve come across what I guess I’ll call the checking the boxes syndrome (pithy). We’re all trying to accomplish so much, so quickly that we’re concentrating too much on “getting done.” I would offer that productivity isn’t moving through a list. Productivity is meeting a goal that creates impact. When we get into the mindset of completion we fail to open ourselves up to the range of possible solutions to a given problem.

When we get into the mindset of completion we fail to open ourselves up to the range of possible solutions to a given problem.

How do we do it?

For me part of every new project or challenge is finding a way into it. Finding a connection that makes you care. On my team we say that everyone needs to think like the CEO. The CEO is taking the success of your company personally. We as designers need to do the same thing. We need to get outside of the project mindset. By that I mean a passive way of thinking that waits to be given a task or a brief, that waits to be told what is needed and what to do. We need to be active in thinking about what success looks like.

Top down or bottom up.

When do you really care about something you’re working on? When you have ownership. Leaders — find ways to foster this sense of ownership among your team. Bring problems that everyone can own a piece of solving, not solutions that need executing. Designers — if your manager isn’t yet empowering you, think hard about what you’ve been tasked with. This will certainly lead to questions. The questions are a way for you to have some ownership. Even if the task doesn’t change hopefully the questioning has made you a part of the process in which you are now more invested.

What now?

I am now the CEO of the green onion project. Well, not really. But I approach it that way, and you can too. We’re in a strange time right now. We’ve been forced to pause. So use the time to take a step back. Find a connection to what you’re working on. Take the time to really care, and create some amazing things.

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