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How to apply ‘Design Thinking’ to Your Life in a Post-pandemic World

The pandemic has forced many people to rethink how they live their lives. But how do you redirect your life? Sometimes we feel our career or life has gotten out of control, gone up a blind alley, or hit a roadblock. We know what our goals are but can’t fulfill them.
 
Use a process called “Design Thinking” to design your life. Designers and artists use this five-step method to produce brilliant work, and it is the reason for the success of the iPhone, Tesla car, Anglepoise lamp, and other excellent designs surrounding you. In this book called “Make Brilliant Work" by Rod Judkinds, the author explains how to apply Design Thinking to your life and become the architect of whoever you are and whatever you do, whatever your age.
 
Artist Henri Matisse composed his life in the same way as
 he did a painting or an exhibition. The method ensured he went from one brilliant career phase to another, decade after decade.
 
  1. Understand yourself
 
There’s no point embarking on a project until you understand yourself. Matisse dug deep into himself. What do you want to achieve? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Matisse’s parents mapped out his life for him. He attained a law degree and accepted a well-paid, secure job in a law office. But he decided to be an artist, not a lawyer and threw all his energy into his ambition.
 
2. Define your problem
 
Define what you’re trying to achieve. Matisse’s problem was how to make an impact in the art world. What could he contribute to the field of painting to progress modern art?
 
Before starting a painting, Matisse asked himself what he wanted to express and how each work fitted with his next exhibition and longer-term goals. He decided to develop Van Gogh’s use of intense, saturated color to an extreme.
 
Matisse researched the history of art and contemporary art. He met all the leading artists of his time from Picasso to Cézanne, visited their studios, and interrogated them about their methods. He went to see all the galleries and collectors to try to work out where he could contribute to art. Ask yourself what you can add to your sphere.
 
3. Create ideas
 
Designers and artists generate many alternative ideas. To get ideas for a painting, Matisse tried out ideas in small sketches or small rough paintings. When Matisse was creatively blocked, he’d change mediums, change subject matter or move somewhere inspiring. He’d even move to another country to get ideas from a different culture.
 
He visited southern France for inspiration and filled his paintings with bright colors and light, which led to one of his significant advances, the movement called ‘Fauves’ (wild beasts). Matisse traveled to Italy, Spain, North Africa, and many other locations to re-energize his work. The more influences he discovered, the more successful he became. Matisse never stopped developing new techniques. At the age of eighty-four, he experimented with colored paper cutouts of expressive human figures several feet in size. They were his most successful work.
 
4. Prototypes
 
Prototyping is the experimental phase of producing many inexpensive, scaled-down versions of an idea to see what problems crop up, and then find solutions to them. A prototype enables you to test and evaluate a new idea on a small scale.
 
Before starting a large painting, Matisse produced tens of sketches and small pictures. He made original versions but on a manageable scale. Then he’d transfer ideas to a larger canvas.
 
Matisse was originally a lawyer. But, he was dissatisfied and began attending drawing classes early in the morning before going to the office. Then he began experimenting with painting and sculpture. He prototyped a new career in a small way before committing himself.
 
There has never been a better time to prototype your ideas, in pop-up stores, podcasts, crowdfunding, blogs, Instagram . . . It’s never been cheaper or easier to manufacture a product.
 
5. Test
 
Designers and artists test their work whenever they present it to the public. An exhibition was a way of seeing how favorably people reacted, and Matisse was attentive to feedback from critics, using it to assess whether to alter his work.
 
In one of the author’s creative thinking workshops, a participant worked in HR for a big company but was dissatisfied. “We applied Design Thinking. I asked her to imagine she was sacked tomorrow and devise three alternative lives, no matter how far-fetched or risky. She was passionate about cooking and, in particular, virgin olive oil. Her fantasy was to produce her own brand of olive oil.”
 
“We searched the Internet and found a tiny olive grove for sale in Greece. She bought it online cheaply without even visiting. She discovered the locals harvested the olives for each other and kindly included her small plot.”
“In that workshop, she designed a bottle and label, drove to Greece to bottle the oil, filled her car, and returned to London, and sold them in upmarket stores. A significant store gave her a concession, and with the profits and huge advance orders, she bought another small plot and then another.”
 
Soon, she owned hundreds of acres, quit her job, and lived her ideal life (though it involved a lot of hard work). She’d still be stuck in a rut if she hadn’t prototyped on a small scale. It gave her the confidence to scale up.
 
If you let things happen to you, you are not in control. Design your life, and you are guiding and shaping it. Like Matisse, think of your career and life as something that has to be crafted and sculpted. Keep the momentum of your career moving upwards and forwards.

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