Designing for Transformation
How changing others is the process of changing yourself.
“Get informed and let it change you.”
I’ve been digesting this quote for some time now — and I admire Margaret Solomon and others like her who are trying to bridge the gap between what we know and how we act. This work is the most challenging work we will face as designers — creating experiences and bridging disciplines to contextualize our world, so that people can make informed decisions.
So, how do you get people to act?
We have to commit to authenticity.
Tim DeChristopher said that real commitment goes beyond logic — it’s about real positive outcomes for the self. It’s about having a stronger connection with our own values.
Do your actions make you feel good or do they cause indigestion?
I’m torn everyday by decisions that I feel don’t align with my values, because I believe the only way to truly transform yourself and others is to pass on embodied knowledge.
That’s who we are.
We are social innovators looking for ways to change the status quo as an embodiment of a vision of a better world.
This is, to me, our cosmic mission.
“If you’re doing the thing you’re supposed to do, you’ll feel like your hand is being held.”
You know when you’re on the right track because it feels like ecstasy. You begin to inspire the good in all people. Like Doug Hebert said, “purpose drives you — it’s a compass.”
So as change makers going out into the world how do we move people over that gap from what we collectively know to how we act?
I believe it’s connected to serving as a human hub — by inspiring your community and using the tools at your disposal to move people to action.
You never just help, you engage, enable, empower and connect. — Robin Low
And the only way anyone will believe you is if you truly embody your work.
Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes and the thing I believe resonates with my entire transformation experience at the Design for Social Innovation program.
Daniella Platner said, “Combine what you love the most with what hurts you the most, that is the path to action.” That is how you achieve authenticity — by combining purpose with passion.
Design is about falling in love with problems, not solutions. You’re have to fail and fail fast to learn that the only way to make something better is to let the problem drive you — not what you think will solve it.
Histories greatest achievements were mostly mistakes, driven by finding the answer, not starting with it.
This is the act of letting the process transform you.
If you really think about it the transformational process it is the same as the design process — learning to listen, reflect, contemplate and then realize sounds a lot like interview, analyze, prototype and launch.
So trust the process.
It’s the practice of getting to know you, by getting to know others.
So in the spirit of listing in 4’s — never stop listening, learning, loving and laughing.
And remember to “get informed and let it change you.”
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