thoughtlessacts

6

Thoughtless Acts is a series of photographs, and a book by Jane Fulton Suri from IDEO. 
She documents peoples thoughtless acts. 

- We interact automatically with objects and spaces that we encounter

- Some qualities and features prompt us to behave in particular ways

- We make use of opportunities present in our immediate surroundings

- We take advantage of physical and mechanical qualities we understand

- We alter the purpose or context of things to meet our objectives

- We learn patterns of behavior from others in our social and cultural group

- We convey messages and prompts to ourselves and others

You are a Designer

Our role as designers has expanded so far beyond design that it has slowly integrated itself into all expressive mediums, into a collective voice of our manifestations. Our field is slowly expanding, and we must not forget that innovation fuels the designer; that the beauty of innovation is that we don’t necessarily need to be the best in an area to call ourselves professionals. We don’t have to be a genius to come up with a legitimate idea that makes an impact. Ideas are born everywhere, and can come from anyone. All that’s needed is passion and drive, aimed for a society at large. Here lies the beauty of creativity, present within all of us, waiting to happen.

Designers today are raved for discovering new ways of using products. We continuously invent services that make so much sense they become essentially natural, making our lives without them unimaginable. They are everywhere and we love them. The reality is that because designers pay more attention to these overseen acts that call for a change, it does not put us above anyone’s ability to do the same. Design is the art of the observer, and we can all observe. So why not try?

To many it is difficult to grasp how it is that we are more emphatic, more sensitive to our actions. We all act and react, and we should all use this to prosper. These actions (or thoughtless acts) which have grown so engraved into our reactions, most times go unattended. For designers, these become our cues. Through analyzing our behavior as designers, and as inevitable consumers, we have grown to realize these cues, but it’s the only thing that sets us apart from the norm. Even more revealing though is the reality that every product that we purchase is proof that we all have the ability to design as well as designers do! All we have to do is observe our surroundings as well as we observe ourselves.  

But How?

Let’s suppose someone designed a better water filter for example. A filter that is aesthetically beautiful and whose style suits our lives better. No matter what that water filter has, the only way it will sell or become famous regardless of the advertising is if people believe in the idea, in the presented solution. If when thinking about the topic, something about that product and its proposal resonated within your necessities, only then will you intend to buy it. The beauty behind this reflection lies within the fact that your acknowledgement proves that the design serves a purpose in your world! This alone means that you have understood and connected with that solution; that the water filter was just what you needed and you were able to value it enough to purchase it. You’ve been having that need, you just hadn’t valued it enough until now. So, if you identified with a solution proposed by a designer, which shared a need with you, doesn’t that grant you the sensitivity needed to create solutions yourself? Sure it does.

Most times we don’t realize the value of our experiences and our thoughts. Most times we don’t even stop to think about what impacted us creatively during our day. That’s our mistake. We are what we consume and the products we use. We have an identity, an opinion and a preference. We just have to stop to think about your experiences, and how people may have reached conclusions similar to ours; that our feelings are often times shared by others. This is the basic mindset to begin developing design thoughts. Next time you see a beautiful product or an ingenious idea that just seems to make perfect sense, let them be proof that you too can create and design beautiful things. Let it motivate you to slow down the world and be more conscious of your surroundings. As part of society, we hold the key to perfection. We are whom we are designing for! True design is for people by people, and everyone can design great things, that includes you.

2

L: *spots the front of the printer-ink-packaging taped to her accountant’s printer*
L: “Can I take a picture of that?
Accountant: what?

L: "Your ink-packaging - I like how you stuck it there to not forget which ink goes in the printer, it’s such a common problem”
A: “Ofcourse” (moves stapler aside)
A: You know on the other side (stands up and looks).. Yes. there is the cd
 

It was too easy for C.’s coworkers at the post office to deny that they’d stolen the tape dispenser from her desk. All the dispensers look alike. So she took matters into her own hands. Now they can’t deny her when she says, “Hey, that one’s MINE!” I love how this solution reveals her sense of humor.

6

My wife recently broke her wrist. She’s going to be okay, but yes, in the short term it’s painful and a major inconvenience. Since the break, I’ve been impressed by her capacity to do all sorts of things one-handed.

For example, she figured out how to open a tightly closed bottle. Those of us with the full use of both hands can hold the bottle with one hand and unscrew the cap with the other. But what would you do if you were limited to one hand?  

Constraints breed creativity. She has discovered an unintended affordance in our gas range. Its metal lattice work is spaced just right so that a bottle can be jammed into place and held their. She wedges the bottle in there, then unscrews the cap. 

We go through a lot of club soda around here—at least a dozen bottles a week. (Try mixing it with orange juice about 9:1, and if you’re feeling fancy, add mint bitters.) So her workaround for opening bottles is no trivial thing.

8

At Acee’s Neighborhood Food & Fuel, it’s too bright for the clerks to read the numbers on their cash registers’ electronic displays. That’s because the window shades hardly dim the morning sun. So a clerk tiled the windows with the foil squares they wrap breakfast sandwiches in. This workaround affords enough shade for them to conduct transactions unimpaired.

Bizarrely, managers chastise the creator of this workaround for it. But, with other clerks’ support, he maintains it. Like C. at the post office, front line employees know how to manage their environments better than anyone else. Acee, if you’re reading this, take a clue from this workaround and purchase a better sunshade.

Wherever workarounds crop up in the workplace, there are opportunities for co-creation. If your staff’s workarounds point to their pain, will you listen?