Changing the world – is design enough?
Changing the world. A few months ago I would've finished that sentence with ‘through design thinking’ but now – I’m not so sure.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t think that design thinking is powerful or even worthy of being in the same sentence as ‘changing the world,’ but I now think it’s part of a broader range of tools that should be used together in order for change to happen.
Since I finished uni – I was probably (most definitely) naive to think that working within an industry that creates inspiring, innovative work was enough. That ‘world changing’ work would just rock up at the doorstep.
Sure, there are certain aspects of projects I’ve been a part of that maybe in some way, shape or form have had a positive impact on someone's life, but on a day-to-day level I really don’t feel like I’m impacting much at all – I’m just making peoples experiences on websites better than what they would of been.
Recently – scrolling through my twitter feed, I came across an interview that Kevin Finn did with Jessica Walsh. The caption to the article was “design won’t change the world.” This shook me. It shook me good, and it made me realise that I was living in a bubble where I thought design could, and would – change the world. For the minute between reading the caption, and reading the article, I felt some serious walls falling down around me.
[insert suspenseful life shattering pause here]
I then read the article, which went onto say “I’ve always been wary of that whole ‘Design can change the world’ thing, because I don’t think design can change the world. People can change the world—and good ideas.” Those previously mentioned walls began to build again around me – but with a hole for the more realistic views to come trickling in.
After this ordeal of emotions (slight overreaction...) I wanted to work toward a life where I could see the results of life altering / world changing ideas. But – what areas did I want to focus on? Where could I start working towards these so called ‘ideas’? I really had no clue, and with that comes procrastination and avoidance.
That’s when I read The School of Life’s ‘How to change the world – by John-Paul Flintoff.’Which helped me compartmentalise some thoughts, and understand a few different directions of how changing the world could be possible. I’ve pulled out some golden nuggets which really resonated with me personally, and hopefully you can find something in them as well.
Golden Nuggets from The School of Life’s ‘How to change the world – by John-Paul Flintoff’
“We won’t be motivated to change the world – if doing so threatens to be a dreary obligation, but if we can find a way to do it that overlaps with the things we most enjoy, we’re more likely to stick to it.”
“What type of life do I think of as a good life? In the fullest sense of the term? What kind of life do I truly admire, and what kind of life do I hope to look back on?”
“Another thing we might do, is take a look back at times when we have made a difference, no matter how small, and try to remember what that felt like.”
“It’s all so, crucially, about not being absent in the world around us. Murdoch believed we should cultivate a kind of ‘mindfulness.’ By making a habit of focusing our attention on everyday things.”
“To see the potential even in our shortcomings, failures, and what we lack requires us to take a fresh look at our entire lives.”
I’m still working out what my ‘thing’ is. The ‘thing’ that will make me feel like I’m impacting the world in a positive way. I’m sure it’s a long road, but it’s a road I’m excited to take.