What Does it Mean to “Follow Your Passion”?

Every year during spring graduation season, we hear variants of the advice to “follow your passion” in life. In today’s social media-enabled marketplace of personal brands and curated public images, it may seem like anything is possible and simply being one’s best self is a foundation for a lasting and fulfilling career. But is this true? More importantly, is it helpful?

I have always been mildly suspicious of this strain of advice… it feels simplistic. How does one know what’s really important? Is a passion stable enough to build a life around?
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Desire Paths: Learning from Consumer Behavior

I recently came across a fascinating TED Talk given by designer Tom Hulme which asks “What can we learn from shortcuts?”. At first glance, many of us would probably be skeptical of the shortcut – after all, we’re conditioned to do due diligence, examine a problem from several angles, and then create a strategy for building a solution. Innovators should create the shortcut but not necessarily take it, right?

But Hulme is interested in learning from the shortcuts that we take in our daily lives. As a designer, his eye is attuned to patterns and deviations from those patterns. Examining the shortcuts that appeal to us as human beings, he proposes, is a powerful way to learn what drives us, what we want, and how we move through our world.
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I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.

Reader Feedback: Design as the Removal of Disorder

It’s always nice to hear from followers of this blog. We are lucky to have thoughtful, engaged readers who take the time to reflect and share their feedback and ideas. After our recent post, Design Mindset: Bridging the Gap Between Product Design and Systems Thinking, we received a thought-provoking comment that deepened the conversation.
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Consider the Stakeholders: Analysis & Decision-Making to Create Value

No one makes decisions alone. Especially in this technologically interconnected age, we are beholden to the interests and opinions of many groups of people: consumers, investors, brand enthusiasts, industry influencers… the list goes on. Each has a distinct point of view, an interest in the outcomes of our decisions, and often an investment of time, money, interest, and even reputation on the line.

When so many parties are stakeholders in the choices made by companies, brands, or influencers, how can we be certain that we are meeting the demands of our many constituent groups? How can we capture and consider the interests of our stakeholders? Enter Stakeholder Analysis – the process by which an organization can analyze the priorities and interests of various parties involved in a project or decision in order to create understanding and build consensus.
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Design Mindset: Bridging the Gap Between Product Design and Systems Thinking

Our Design Mindset series has attempted to define some of the many abstractions around “good” design – what is it, and how can it be quantified and consistently achieved? It’s easy to understand the importance of design in creating new products, both to stand out in an increasingly crowded market and to develop a user experience that resonates with consumers. It’s more difficult to implement design in other aspects of business, but the rewards are significant for those that do.

In an article published by McKinsey & Company, designer John Maeda remembers a client who had a realization about the importance of design, saying “Oh, so design isn’t about this pixels thing. It’s about systems thinking… it isn’t just about the appearance.” Good design values aesthetics, but perhaps even more so it values the integrity and functionality of systems. Let’s explore how successful companies bridge the gap between product design and systems thinking.
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Design Mindset: Achieving “Good” Design is Essential, But How?

We recently explored the business value of the design mindset – an approach that prioritizes holistic design that encompasses not only product design but process design and more. Companies that treat design as an ongoing creative process spanning the entire organization see tremendous benefits. In fact, a recent study by the Design Management Institute and Motiv Strategies found that an initial $10,000 investment in design ultimately created nearly $40,000 in value over the following decade.

How exactly does design deliver this value? For consumers, it’s obvious – good design enables a seamless user experience, which makes products both effective and easy to use. For businesses, there are larger questions. What exactly is “good” design, and how can it be quantified and consistently achieved?
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Google’s Talk to Books: AI Opens Creative New Search Pathways

Google has long been acknowledged as the king among online search engines (does anyone still Ask Jeeves?). As www.google.com became the default “home” page on many of our browsers, it replaced search platforms like JSTOR and LexisNexis, which are now relegated to libraries and educational institutions. It also changed the way we ask questions, consume information, and navigate our own internal mental landscapes.

The power that this gives Google (and Alphabet, its parent company) is immense. There is ongoing debate over whether such a monopoly on access to information is healthy, sustainable, or conducive to democracy. As scholars and pundits debate, the rest of us continue turning to Google for answers to queries ranging from “how to fix a water heater” to “what is the meaning of life?”. Now, a new initiative from the company’s experts in artificial intelligence (AI) is once again shifting the framework of access to information online.
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