Playing small doesn’t serve the world, and I believe in doing things that are helpful and bigger than taking care of only me and mine.
We live in an era where there’s so much at stake - the planet, the safety of our children, the rule of law, the consequences of runaway capitalism - we can’t afford to turn away. Designers in particular are guilty of making things that are doing harm. We have to fix it.
Why this quote? It’s one I wrote down a long long time ago and it has stuck with me.
I have to give a shout out to my coach, Donna Lichaw. Without her I wouldn’t be able to live this as hard as I am trying to.
First, do no harm.
This one seems obvious, but it’s sneaky. Sometimes doing good for the company you work for does harm to the people you want to buy your thing. And it feels small, but it’s actually huge (too many examples to count). Look, most of us need to make an income, but too many of us don’t think beyond the intended use of the things we make for others to use. But that’s just not the whole picture. I work hard to consider all of the unintended consequences, uses and abuses of what I make, and the potential larger impact. We can’t always know, but if we never even ask the question, that’s just asking for bad shit to happen.
Be NOT the uni-tasker-maker!
Don’t make things that solve a tiny problem and create ten others! Too often, we make things that answer the question “what can we do right now?” in a race to show people we’ve made something, anything, so we can get paid, I guess? No bueno! I prefer to build learning systems that solve real problems and don’t create new ones.
This is an enormous issue for all the current popular methods of Jobs-to-be-done, Agile, Lean and Design Thinking methods. They are super convenient for quarterly results, but so damn short-sighted! Move fast and break things has broken a lot of things.
“Ability” is a temporary state
Too often I hear excuses about how hard it is to design for accessibility, alternative means or personal economics — or my personal favorite, “old people don’t use technology.” I want to grab these people by the shoulders and shake them, that thinking is so narrow and biased, and I also hope that one day they’re stuck in a medieval castle on crutches with a 10-lb cast and an eye patch, plus a stroller with a toddler in it, because that’s what they’re making - a medieval castle. And those things DO NOT have plumbing! Trust me, I was dragged around to MANY castles as a kid.