"The state-of-mind of being curious is like a gift that never stops giving."
In last Friday’s Virtual Coffee conversation, I heard a comment that was an “aha” moment for me. Holly LeMaster said,
The solution to burnout is not rest, it’s fulfillment.
What is fulfilling during a pandemic? For designers and people who think that way, Human-Centered Design is fulfilling. Human-Centered Design or Design Thinking is rooted in helping find solutions to complex problems and relieving suffering.
In California, where I live, the days of sheltering-in-place have turned into weeks. Surely they will turn into months. People are collectively discovering ways of passing the time:
- watching old movies,
- sharing virtual coffees,
- doing online yoga, and
- rediscovering the telephone!
We are creating clever workarounds for the loss of ordinary human connection. These workarounds are good and necessary, but we think people have a yearning to do more than “tread water” and wait it out.
When the shelter-in-place order was issued, my 7-year old grandson said,
“Coronavirus? That’s scary, but don’t they know about cabin fever? I’m more afraid of cabin fever than a virus.”
Instead of getting cabin fever, go to the design thinker’s C-suite, three habits-of-mind that are stable pillars of thinking and doing. They will move you from treading water to fulfillment.
Compassion is having genuine feelings for other people’s struggles. It is caring about them and behaving toward them with affection, generosity, and concern. It is an ethos of thoughtfulness and decency. It is a willingness to help. Being compassionate with your family and friends helps with cabin fever (yours and theirs). Being compassionate with colleagues builds trust and lets them know of your sincere concerns for their well-being during the crisis.
Curiosity is the urge you feel to know more about something. It is the desire to learn about things by asking questions, investigating, or exploring. It is listening more deeply and not judging.
The state-of-mind of being curious is like a gift that never stops giving.
A thin, porous membrane separates curiosity and wonder. Being curious with your family or roommates and colleagues during the pandemic may give you new insights while providing them with a stable anchor to share their fears and frustrations.
Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, and to create meaningful new ideas, methods, tools, solutions, and friendships. We call it breaking out of the bounding box of everyday habitual thinking – or orthodoxies. If ever there was a time to think differently, it is now. Creativity is not the specialized domain of the few.
Michael Grybko, a neuroscience research scientist and engineer at the University of Washington, says this about creativity,
The Bigger Picture
Embracing the C-suite will help you cope with – even thrive – during the pandemic. It's a stable mindset that moves with you wherever you go (or don't go). It's always on and available. And it's free! In the broader framework, how might the C-suite help us to create new solutions to the problems facing our community, our states, our nation, and our world?
- We are using the C-suite to host the weekly "Virtual Espresso" gathering of people around the world to put our heads together and work beyond ourselves.
- We are offering our online design thinking course to any student whose design thinking classes are disrupted.
- We are using the C-suite to expand our human community to be helpful wherever we can. As Daniel Pink said, creativity is, "giving the world something it didn't know it was missing."
For us, being helpful, finding solutions to complex problems, and relieving suffering sure beats cabin fever. If it's the same for you, then feel free to join us.
Clark Kellogg is Founding Partner do The Berkeley Innovation Group (UC Berkeley) and Visiting Professor of Porto Business School, where he lectures the Design Thinking course in both MBA programmes - The Magellan MBA and Executive MBA.
[Text originally published on Berkeley Innovation Group blog, Big Ideas on March 25th]