Tools Of Change For Designers: Intro

As we create the world through our imagination, our visions, our conversations, our decisions, commitments and our actions, it’s essential to understand that as a designer you’re actually creating the world, and you have many options. Where we have choice is in each moment, in the now.

Each moment, we get to choose:

• Our attitudes,
• How thoughtfully we listen, and
• What to do with the information we have.

The opportunity is to get better at choosing, because our choices contribute directly to reality as it unfolds right smack in front of us. The default reality is one possible version of reality, but it’s not a given. We have a choice.

Some people argue that designers are change agents and others say that they’re not. Either way, you are an agent of change in your own life. You have a choice.

I hear that design, experience design, user-centered design, service design, information design, design thinking and all monikers of the form “design” will change the world. I think that part of this is right, but I also feel that we over promise and under deliver because, in part, designers have fixated on the wrong problem: the default reality.

Design is the craft of change. The potential is certainly there, but I worry that design professionals don’t realize how much choice, or capacity to be a change agent, they have. Consequently, many designers react to the default reality instead of creating a better one.

Part of a designer’s job is to lead the change. Gandhi said it best, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” And, as a designer, whether you like it or not, each of you is an agent of change. Change will follow in your wake, and the wake you leave is the version of reality you choose to live in.

There are five tools of change: Illuminating, Educating, Negotiating, Advocating and Activating. Each week I will write an article on one of these tools based on a talk that I delivered at the Information Architecture Summit in New Orleans.

Harry Max is Vice President of Experience Design for Rackspace. Harry’s role includes responsibility for everything experience: from product design to customer service tools to aspects of the employee experience. Be sure to visit the blog next week for Harry’s first tool of change for designers, Illuminating.


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