To most people design is the way something looks or feels – a poster, an iPhone, a website or a cool appliance. Design is a means of self-expression, and can be used to create beautiful things. But what if the real value of design lies in applying it outside the realm of art, and using it for creative problem-solving in other places? What if design is really “a way of looking at the world with an eye toward changing it.”
Design involves the act of studying things to find out what’s lacking, and what needs to be improved. Design uses research to find out what’s already been done, what worked and what didn’t. Design is coming up with multiple ideas, and prototyping and testing those ideas in order to find the best solution. So, what if we’re not just talking about aesthetics, or a functional website, or a chair? What if we’re talking about solving big complex problems like education, transportation, or social inequality?
When you enlarge the definition of design, everybody is a designer. Everyone with an internet connection has the ability to research, collaborate, solve problems and express themselves. Design provides the way of thinking, the approach to a problem, and the methodology to solve them. That doesn’t mean the solutions are easy. It doesn’t mean anything will be solved in a day. But consider taking just one small step, addressing a single problem, a local situation, on a case-by-case basis, that will benefit from change.
As Dan Rather so aptly put it, “We cannot sit passively and expect happiness or justice to come to us. To make the new year truly a happier one requires energy and ingenuity. It requires action. It is a big world with many problems. Few are easily fixable and none of us can fix any of them alone. Make resolutions to act in even small ways you can accomplish, and… build from there. I have seen… what human action, following the light of righteousness and love, can accomplish.”
I’m an optimist. I believe we all have a gift or talent, that we can use to make a difference. This year, I’m choosing to focus on what I can do, to make my own new year happier, and to bring more happiness to others. Because each one of us has the power make a difference.