Cipenso.

Creative Project and Design Management

How I train my design muscles

I’m going to be honest. Each day of my Cipenso. adventure requires constant effort to stick to my why’s. Moments of extreme enthusiasm can alternate with overthinking and doubts, and I have to stay curious to jump over the hurdles. 

How easy is it to lose track? Let me tell you, it’s very easy — it’s called being human.

But then I conquer my why’s once again and course-correct with new clarity and direction, rediscovering what made me choose this path in the first place. For instance, I recently registered at the Design Thinkers Academy in Amsterdam, where I’ll be taking two very inspiring courses on design thinking fundamentals and facilitation. Here I go! 

But it’s not just the big jumps that count. I’ve also found that training my design muscles with a small daily exercise can help keep me on track.

EOD (Exercise of the Day)

Ever felt confused by the amount of content out there about change and innovation? All that input can become overwhelming in your head. 

Instead of getting overstimulated by the infinite possibilities, I’ve tried sharpening my own focus on what I do, who I am and what I can contribute with. I’ve created my own design exercise to help me do this. I started by identifying topics that trigger my personal curiosity and interest, then try to understand what the next step might be towards realizing change within one of these topics.

I’m sincerely convinced that change can only happen when it becomes part of our daily vocabulary. By making yourself more familiar with the idea of it, it will feel less abrupt or difficult in practice. You might even find yourself predisposed to the idea of change, and bravely start something new. 

design possibilities

Here are a few things I’ve been musing about during my daily design exercise:

  • empathy for details 

If we slow down, we won’t be able to avoid the small or ugly things. This develops a renewed attention for them while provoking a natural intention to care about them. 

  • cycle- and walk-scapes 

Images get stretched or stand still based on the pace we’re moving at. A bicycle path doesn’t inspire the same behaviors that cars do. If cities and buildings would be reshaped to offer new perspectives available only to those who cycle and walk, I think we’d see many more people willing to embrace a new way of moving.

  • embracing partnerships

We are asked to adapt to changing markets. What if we would start sharing knowledge instead of market shares and profit only. Maybe the result could be a less competitive and more inclusive market where results are measured in customer satisfaction and adaptability. We’d be continuously adaptive because we’d have multiple skills. 

  • home development

I’m pretty sure that we’ve ALL been thinking differently about our living space over the past months. Suddenly the need for m2 became less important than feeling safety, harmony, health. We sought sparks of joy around the feeling of “home”. That could be the starting point for new developments — how to convert existing space into homes.

  • inner selfscapes

When we visit a space, we tend to look for windows. This is not only to stimulate our sight but our inner self, also. What if we designed landscapes and cityscapes specifically to contribute positive emotions when we look out at them from a window? 

  • childability

It’s obvious that our cities are now largely inaccessible, unattractive and even dangerous to our kids. How can we mobilize a new type of urban planning which takes children’s current needs into account and activates research to predict how their needs will change in the future?  And how about involving kids themselves in our brainstorming processes?

  • mindful purchasing

Instead of adjusting to the 1.5m distance while trying to keep old ways of consumption intact, couldn’t we all benefit from different ways of buying? What if manufacturing processes were transparently displayed online, and we only chose items that reflected our values? What if brick-and-mortar shops alternated with hand-crafting/refurbishing units where objects we bought in the past could be modified, updated or repaired, once they’re worn or obsolete.

  • new luxury

Would you go to a hotel, knowing it doesn’t operate with this renewed sense of human-centric luxury? I personally wouldn’t.  What if we could sit in pop-up lobbies located in local streets, nearby public spaces, with breakfasts served by local bars and bakeries, with gym sessions and treatments supplied by local personal trainers in parks or in the comfort of your room? 

Stop thinking. Let’s do it.

Now, I’m sure not everyone will think the above thoughts are relevant or significant or inspiring, but one of you will. And here is the thing: if there’s two of us, the change can begin. 

Let’s U-turn on the solo path we normally take. By doing so, we’ll stimulate new behaviors and inspire others to do the same. I’ll be sharing more about my experience doing just that — in my next blog. See you there?

Image by Michael Kubler and Bluehouse Skis.

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