A Digital Retreat

No reason, no trigger, no event on January 1 I decided to take a digital retreat for one month.  And save two pop-ins on Facebook to update a kitchen remodel (I know, i know… purist already believe the retreat ruined), I gave up Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram.  The first few days were strange.  I’d grab my phone, and just about to push the big fat white F, I’d instead hover over to NYT. And begin reading the news – real news written by really good journalists.

A few more days, and I still had the itch for doing “something’ on the smartphone. And so, my reading the news deepened. In the past I’d read the headline and first paragraph, but now I was reading whole articles.  A few more days, and I found myself in better conversations with friends and colleagues at work, on hikes, in cafes. And a few more days, I did the unthinkable, I left my phone home while meeting friends  for dinner.  And THAT became the conversation.

“You left your phone at home?!” 

“Ummm, yes I did.”

“What if something happens?”  

“Im here with you. You’ll help me. I am sure of this.”

There are three takeaways from my retreat (which ends today):

  1. The impact on reading.
  2. The effect on live experiences.
  3. The delusion on knowing people from their digital lives.

For all three the main theme was focus – increased focus on the written material, increased focus on being in the present, and increased focus on all that is happening in someone’s life.  And so, I am ready to dive back into my digital world, but with new focus and awareness of what is around me – real life with real people.


My Perfectly Ugly and Incomplete Ideas

At the Global Jam, a service design challenge this past weekend, the hosts warned the contestants “don’t marry your ideas”.

Good design generally means you’ve had some honest discussion; perhaps with an impartial critic who could care less about your feelings, but does care deeply about your design’s purpose. If you are cringing at the mere notion of “could care less about your feelings” than you already are falling into the “I married my design” trap.

I am guessing that the ability to give and receive a critique is plummeting over time with the acceleration of tools that make work seem polished and complete. You type your words, build your slides, try a few things….and next thing you know you’re the on the pulpit preaching the gospel. If this is you (and this most certainly is sometimes me), we must master the skills of detachment. And we must learn how to divorce our ideas as soon as possible… if not for better design, than at least for personal self worth. You are not your ideas…

Try chanting this before your next critique: “I am beautiful and complete, my ideas may not be.”

Don’t Forget the Humans

Last fall, my partner in crime, Christi Zuber and I had the opportunity to present on why we think human-centered design is so important…and so huge for healthcare. In an amazing event designed by Adaptive Path, UX Week took many of us on a journey of exploration, from comics to starships and behavior to dancing. I loved that the organizers made the week theme-less; instead they focused on bringing together cool, inspiring stuff.

Since the conference I’ve received several emails sharing that the video was an excellent “intro to HCD” for their organization. Although it was certainly not designed for that purpose I am thrilled it is finding a second life.

In any case, here is the video in its entirety…thanks to the folks at Adaptive Path (and you can get the Transcripts here).

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