How can designers solve the right problems?
“How can designers solve the right problems?” Allison Arieff dove into this question on the first morning of the Bend Design Conference. She also posed questions like, “as designers, how can we look beyond our own lived experiences and small niches to solve the issues that exist at a much larger scale?” and “how can our creative minds work together to create something at the same rate of innovation?”
Her philosophy was simple. As designers and participants in the world around us, we must expand and diversify our audience of problem-solvers. Design minds are embedded throughout every profession and using them in synergy with one another can lead to truly inspiring and creative solutions.
This concept of collaboration stood out to me as metaphorical pillar of the design process. I heard it echoing throughout the rest of the conference. Communal innovation can only improve us as designers to solve the problems of today and the future.
The Genius Gap
By attending the Joel Pilger’s “Genius Gap” workshop, I revealed something about myself that I hadn’t known before. The practice was introspective and informative, and I’m excited to see where my personal discoveries lead me in the future. In an attempt to boil the workshop down, without being too reductive, I’ve shared the basic steps of the “genius gap” below.
The first step is addressing whether you’re stuck in a “genius gap.” The warning signs of being “stuck” are:
- Ongoing frustration
- Repetitive, negative conversations
- Difficulty performing the main tasks of your job
- Loss of creativity
The next step is identifying your “genius:” Here’s how:
- Ask an un-biased party (coworker, business party, etc.) what you’re good at.
- List all activities you do for your work and separate them into the following categories:
- (I)ncompetent: You either aren’t good at this or despise doing this.
- (C)apable: You can do this, but you’re not necessarily are great at it.
- (E)xcellent: You prefer to be the person to do this. You also enjoy it and excel at it.
- (G)enius: All the qualities of (E) plus you love doing this, it brings you energy, and it achieves massive results.
Now that you’ve identified your genius, you have a choice: you can remain stuck or makes changes to foster your genius. It can feel overwhelming, but like most things in life, we must first crawl before we can walk and eventually run. The final step is creating your plan of action. Here’s an example:
- One day per week I focus on my “genius.” Eventually I will gravitate to more days until all I do is work on my “genius” tasks.
- If I am a business owner, I let my staff know my schedule and they know not to interrupt me on this day.
- If I am an employee, I request one day per week as a training or focus day to foster my “genius.” If I am rejected, then I educate myself on my own time.
Finally, it is crucial to remind yourself throughout the process of the following:
- Remember: what is boring to you may be someone else’s “genius.”Let go of tasks that do not support your genius and allow others to have them.
- Rejection and failure are part of the process. You can’t achieve what you don’t try.
- Some people may not be supportive. Some people will think you are being selfish. That’s okay. You are being selfish, and you should be. Nothing is stopping others from going for their “genius”. Your job is what pays for your life and your dependents, so why not love what you do?
Essentially, anyone, even if they aren’t feeling “stuck,” can benefit from taking a moment to reflect and identify the areas in their lives where they could make a change to better support their “genius” and achieve success.