Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Universal Skills in Design: a Common Language

Happy "Post-Christmas" everybody!

With the book now available in the United States, life is good, and I continue to really think about my role as a designer—from a much broader and expansive height.

When I set out on my “design path” I was young—and honestly: design for me was more a way to make some money drawing and being “creative.” Over the years, I have had numerous opportunities to reflect on growing up, and how I have changed. Then today, I read this post and started thinking about the bigger picture.

While co-writing the book “Stories that Move Mountains,” I started to feel like I was finally seeing first hand, how design is really a mindset—part of an approach that drives collaboration and is not just about “specializing” in design. There is Instructional Design, Graphic design, Interior Design and Industrial Design—to name a few, but it starts with design intention, the common desire to create something useful for client AND consumer.

Design IS about the creative approach towards this end-goal, regardless of your specialty area, and at this time in my career I think I am finally seeing that often our specialties just get in the way. We all need to specialize, but the conversation and collaboration are most exciting when we drop the walls of our own specialized languages and look for common ways to communicate the same goals—regardless of final delivery mechanisms.

Let’s just talk DESIGN.

Perhaps it’s about why I got into this to begin with… I liked to express myself through creative means. I never really cared about being a “graphic designer,” and being an “Instructional Designer” is fine too, but sometimes the role just plain gets in the way, doesn’t it?

I like art, learning and being creative—trying new things every day.

This is how I ended up on the path to trying new things in art, music, teaching, etc.
I just liked the topics… I never really wanted to BE the role. I thought I did… or rather thought I ‘should’ have a role to prove something.

It no longer really matters though, is no longer relevant, and is only a matter of convenience, when titles are needed. I’m a person first… with general communication and consulting skills first. Then there is design… a broad area. Learning happens when people are not so quick to label everything.

Design has become a really big deal for me, and less about what anyone would normally think of as ‘being creative.’ A key premise for my blog, for instance, is design from a life approach perspective. I applied some “life design” over the last few years… shifting career focus from college education to corporate training. I did this through a process of analyzing economic niches and needs, as well as what would capitalize on what I enjoyed and did well. I transferred a great deal of strength into new areas. This is at the core of design-focused thinking: transferring key skills across new areas.

My life turned out to be something much richer than just drawing pictures. I became a designer that was relatively happy, doing what I thought I was supposed to do. I led a life of design education and taught in many colleges for almost 15 years.

It fostered a love for learning—my own learning—as well as helping others learn and achieve their own goals (through teaching, coaching and instructional design). I still love to make music and art, but I also design for learning. From a higher level, it follows similar processes across the board.

Whether it’s math, science, engineering, visual arts, music, psychology, sociology…

We can all benefit from design, and design thinking.

Things are really starting to happen, hitting us in torrents in an increasingly connected world, and fortunately, we’re starting to realize the value in design. Reports are finding that “design schools are not only a major source of new talent for the economy's rapidly growing creative sector, but are critical catalysts for entrepreneurship.”

David writes: “Design, broadly defined, is an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving that seeks to develop more effective products, environments, and organizations. At its heart, design is about understanding people and how they interact in the larger world.”

This quote ends on a key point: design from a systems perspective, meaning we design our environment—and everything in it, in a much bigger system. The system just keeps expanding, and more sustaining and successful solutions exist when they take the bigger picture into consideration.

NONE of these issues focus explicitly on art, graphic design, architecture, interior design or any of the “creative professions.” They exist across everything, and signify a way of thinking, not a specific way of doing.

Nigel Cross would be proud, as he has a great body of work encompassing what he calls “Designerly Ways of Knowing.” His work over the last 40 years has developed from the basic premise that designers (whether architects, engineers, product designers, etc.) have and use particular ‘designerly’ ways of knowing and thinking. This continues to expand beyond the professions listed above…

And seeing and discovering that human innovation may hinge on a design-thinking approach that crosses all boundaries to true inter-disciplinary kinship…

Here’s to letting go of job titles!


No comments:

Post a Comment