#Mindrmama Meghan Butler spends her days working in the tech industry and her nights working on passion projects, which include writing, reading, podcasts, and her husband and son.
It’s a familiar scene. Your little one has decided it’s time to pitch their daily fit.
You have an overflowing bag of groceries slung over your shoulder, and your beautifully designed and quite expensive stroller at the ready. All you need is 60 seconds to unlock and open the collapsible tangle of metal and plastic, but your screaming child clings to you and dials it up a notch as you try to set them down. You’re stuck with a beautiful piece of junk, lacking entirely in human-centered design.
“Design is an ethos — it’s a way of creatively developing solutions around the needs and context of real people.” – Hila Mehr
Hila Mehr, who will be speaking with the Mindr crew this Sunday, is an expert in human-centered design or "design thinking". She works in market development at IBM and has led workshops in the US, Nigeria and India to help individuals and organizations become innovators by applying design-thinking principles.
At first glance, design thinking might seem like a concept most relevant to corporations and large organizations, but the core principles can be applied to practically anything. On Sunday, Hila will be speaking on how parents can use design thinking to #HackYourLife. Think of it as the yogic concept of living an intentional life, taken a step further.
Human-centered design is the core of nearly everything we do. It's in the stroller or baby wrap you use daily. And the clunky-but-functional plastic high chair that doesn’t look as sleek as the minimalist Scandinavian version, but was clearly created by a parent with function in mind. Design thinking provides a new way to approach everyday problems - in parenting and beyond.
Carissa Carter, the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Stanford d.school writes: “At the d.school we endeavor to enable our students in eight core design abilities so that they might develop their own creative confidence and also inspire others, take risks, and persevere through tough projects throughout their lives.”
Taking a closer look, these eight abilities are closely tied to the skills we all need as parents and as people:
Learn from Others
Move Between Concrete and Abstract
Build and Craft Intentionally
Design your Design Work
At least a few of these abilities likely line up directly with your day-to-day tasks, from parenting to professional to passion projects. We are all designers in some capacity - perhaps you don’t draw or create sculpture, you’re not a UX maven but you are the master of your + your family’s universe. Hila says, “You can use design thinking to frame problems in a different way. Instead of immediately prescribing solutions to a problem, understand the context of the problem and the value you are looking to gain by solving it.”
So next time you face adversity, whether small or large, instead of rushing for a solution try to take a step back and apply some of the key design thinking principles:
Create a human-centered solution: Design thinking is, at its core, created to respond to human-centered needs. Sometimes in the rush of everyday life, we can forget that solving problems is just another to-do to check off the list. How can we create solutions that will be an investment in the future?
Be mindful of process: Similar to #1, it can be easy to search for the quickest and easiest fix for any work you need to complete or problem you’re facing. Approaching life with design thinking in mind means trying finding ways to be thoughtful in both. How will you improve your methods in the future?
Culture of prototyping: Be kind to yourself as you work through designing solutions and efficiencies for your life. Allow yourself to try something and have that method fail, then take those learnings and incorporate them into the next attempt until you find the best fit.
Bias toward action: Too often when thinking about how to design your life, you can get stuck in the “thinking” portion. Design thinking encourages action-oriented thinking - try a solution and then another and fine-tune until you get to a solution that works. This goes hand-in-hand with the culture of prototyping. Try and then try again and try a third time until you are able to meld together the best solution or design for you.
Show, don't tell: Stuck on a problem? Draw it! You don’t have to be Picasso to leverage visual tools to think through a topic. Humans as a species are highly visual, whether you attended art school or not. Have you hit a wall in your design thinking? Bust out those crayons and construction paper and workshop it in pictures.
Radical collaboration: It’s important to remember that even when you’re in the middle of creating a design thinking plan or solution, you’re always a member of a tribe, a community and a team. Bringing together those who think differently than you can always help shed light on the process. And you don’t have to be stuck at an impasse to have these conversations! Grab a cup of coffee with a friend and chat through what you’re working on - there’s magic in collaboration!
We hope you’re able to join us on Sunday to speak more with Hila about these and other #HackYourLife ideas.
Hungry for more Design Thinking? Here are some of our favorite articles on the topic: