Making Change Makers
For the past one month I have been devoting time to have interactions with students and professionals who are eager to learn co-creation. This blog was inspired by a very insightful dialogue I had this morning with the graduate students of the Human Computer Interface Institute of the Carnegie Mellon University.
These interaction have been an enlightening experience for me.
For the past four decades I have been evangelizing design, design research and co-creation mostly to clients who are more interested in profit and growth (With a few exceptions) than in social impact. I have spent a lot of my energy answering questions of opinionated people who seek confirmation of their beliefs, than opening of their minds. I meet very few people who are genuinely open to being challenged. Those who are open to their beliefs being challenged often do not have the influence, power, or resources to make their organizations learn, grow and transform.
Those who want to disrupt traditional models of doing business or innovate institutions and tools of modern living are often driven more by the thrill of disruption, or the lure of a financial windfall.
The lockdown has provided me the opportunity to reflect as much about the past as about the future. I have been thinking about where I should invest the precious time I have left. I think about the influence and the impact I can have on the world. I always believed that we can have a profound impact on the world as designers. To some extent it is true but it is also easy to get caught up in satisfying our ego as we seek new opportunities for applying our creative talent.
The past month has revealed something very important to me. My dialogue with students and attendees at workshops and conferences where I was invited to speak about co-creation has made me realize the meaning of the famous proverb, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. Only those who are thirsty to learn understand the value of learning. Only those who are not committed to maintaining status quo or perpetuating their legacy will work towards change. Only those who have nothing to lose will explore every opportunity for change with curiosity and an open mind.
Coronavirus has created a unique environment in which we can envision a new future. It is time to design the future with a new mindset. The world is opening to the idea that we may have made some fundamental mistakes in building a society that is based on consumption and instant gratification as opposed to conservation and sustainable development. We may have moved fast to nowhere or even worse to a wrong place. We may have caused an imbalance with nature. We may have been opulent in using resources and abrasive and ruthless in our conduct.
While most of those who have a stake in the game may want to revert to the same old ways, I see a new window of opportunity to train a new generation of co-creators of a more sustainable and ethical future. My musings are motivating me to use the rest of my time in incubating the values and perspectives to bring mindfulness to the world blinded by greed, impatience and apathy.