Sunday, June 10, 2007

Paradigm shifts and design

I started at my new job this week. I haven’t been exposed to the specific tasks of the position, yet I’ve learned a few lessons…

It is a big company, so there were these introductory activities that are meant to give the newbie an idea of what the company is, where it’s going…

As a designer and professional I look for new challenges, I look to acquire new knowledge. Which may in the beginning be interpreted as challenges related to the technical aspects of design, form, color, sketching, specifications…

And then sometimes you find your challenges somewhere else and related to other things different than design.

This week I met this guy, 25-year-old. At first glance one of those yuppie guys that work in the commercial field, remembers everybody’s name, always smiling… you know the type, right? Your typical sales manager in the making.

In one of the activities we were all asked “what is something that few people know about you?” and his answer was “overcoming a back injury in a taekwondo match”.

I later on asked him about it and he told me about being in bed for two years because he’d broken his back, he wasn’t able to walk and he was told that if he were to walk again, he’d be “walking strange”.

I can tell you something, six years later, he’s not walking strange. Not only that, the guy jogs every day and at 25 he has a clear picture of where he’s going, what he wants; he’s building his life.

So this knowledge took me from seeing him as the yuppie careless kid, to admiring his vision and persistence and even feeling jealous of him because when I was his age I had no idea of where I was going.

Oh, but there was more for me to learn this week…

Another one of the people in the activities was this girl… She got there late, for starters. I immediately made the judgment that a person that would arrive late wasn’t very committed or maybe she just didn’t care.

During the day it became obvious that she was loud, bossy and obnoxious. I was thinking “thank the Lord she’s not in my area, I don’t have to work with her”.

And as luck would have it, at the end of the day I learned that she and I will actually be working really close together.

How ironic, huh?

I also learned that this twenty-something woman has a child and a husband, goes to college and works full time. Her day starts at 4am to study for her finals and then get her son ready for school at 5:30.

How about that? Suddenly my perception turned 180°, I could see her struggles and enthusiasm.

But what does all this have to do with design, you ask?

Not much, I guess.

But I wanted to bring this experience up to illustrate how we can get so immersed in our misconceptions that it takes a shift in our paradigms to understand, to be able to see further.

Would changing our paradigms have anything to do with design?

How about making assumptions about a problem? About people?

Could there be other alternatives? What else could it mean?

How else could we approach the issue?

Be open, be generous, be humble.

All the best.


Suray said...

You right... Every kind of works need generous and humble... Good job! see you..

Carolina Ayerbe said...

Thanks for the comment, Suray!