Happiness Enabler: Design

Guys! I did it! I went and got certified in Design Thinking from IDEO U and had way too much fun doing it!

For those new to the idea, design thinking is a process for creative problem solving that utilizes elements like empathy and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions. By using design thinking, we make decisions based on what future customers really want instead of relying on historical data or making risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence.

It's basically sociology meets design, which oddly enough is where I've been sitting my whole life without realizing it. Back in middle school and high school I was very involved in a program called Future Problem Solvers. I participated in the international competition several years. I LOVED the process of thinking it required much more than the competition itself. No one told me that what the program was based on was the principles of design thinking. Even worse, no one told me this was a valid career path. Le sigh. 

I went away to college and studied advertising/design and sociology. I enjoyed the sociology classes more than advertising, but the ad industry seemed more financially rewarding so off I went into the sometimes fun but twisted, dark and completely backwards world of advertising. 

When I worked in the industry I spent a lot of time being frustrated. The problems we were trying to address seemed trivial to me. Not trivial in a 'why would you ever advertise your product' sense but trivial because the challenges they were trying to address (reach, email opt-ins, Facebook likes) weren't actual problems. I was constantly banging my head against the wall hoping to help them figure out how to better communicate real consumer benefits, more closely align to actual consumer values and ultimately have a bigger impact on their relationship with consumers. 

What took me more than a decade to realize was I thought everyone was approaching the work the same way I was. I assumed that's how designers thought and how marketers saw their role in the world. In the end, my clients, bosses and peers weren't the root of my frustration. I was frustrated because my assumptions were off.

During my last stint at an agency, I was introduced to IDEO. I fell head over heels for them, mostly because it was the type of work I assumed I was being paid to do all along. So when I parted ways with that agency, I immediately signed up for classes through IDEO U. And here we are – a much happier, more engaged version of myself. I found my sweet spot. 

As I've been building Project More Happy, I've been getting certified in Design Thinking. The design thinking process has shaped this company. The products and services we'll be launching in the near future are all rooted in design thinking. Even better, a lot of them will help teach others this simple, effective and human way of interacting with the world.  

I'm excited that everything has finally aligned for me in terms of knowing where my happy lives in terms of the work I can do to add value to our world. And with that, I want to share one of my class projects. Enjoy and stay tuned for what's to come in terms of adding more happy to the world!

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