We are all reeling from the past year and a half. Anywhere you look there are articles and reports about deaths of despair, declining mental health, increase substance abuse, all kinds of secondary impacts of the social upheaval we've endured. How does a global community stitch itself back together when the seams were not so tight to begin with? How audacious to talk about well-being when most of us are in survival mode! Why does this seem like the moment to throw out buzz phrases like "human-centered design"?
I will tell you... because we have to. There is no time to spare.
The methodology behind our products, our businesses, and our systems across sectors can contribute to our decline or to our revival. Human-centered design is a buzz phrase, but it simply means to create solutions with those impacted by the problem. It's simple, not easy. We have dedicated a lot of energy to making some people right and others wrong. We are socially invested in hierarchy and ego. The truth is, human-centered design is social justice design, restorative, liberatory, radical, feminist, and our only way through this critical juncture created by the pandemic.
Human-centered design slows down the rat race to ask, what do you need? How can your life be improved? What would support you in living your best life? How can you feel better in your mind, your body, your soul? Engagement matters. Slowing down to listen is the first and most vital step forward. Humbling yourself to not have all the answers is a practice of self reflection. We are all a part of the design.
Can you slow down today? Can you find a moment to pause and ask yourself how you're doing? Take a deep breath and remember that you're an integral part of this whole. You are needed, not for having answers but for being present. How present can you be to this moment? Stop fixing and start listening.