An improvised manifesto (that could be applied to design), by Djen Choo. Conceived at the Massive Change Workshop, Chicago, 2012, inspired by Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.
December 18th, 2012  |  by choorocca

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of being invited to be a Design Optimizer for one of the two teams that participated in the Massive Change Workshop, Chicago, led by Bruce Mau. If you know Bruce, or have heard of him, or have read about him, then you might imagine that any design workshop led by him would be a pretty incredible experience. Bruce is just a brilliant designer and an all-around good person. I’m fortunate to be able to say that from firsthand experience.

Massive Change Workshop, Chicago, was an incredible experience for me. Over the course of a power-packed 2+ days, I learned so much. One of the best things I’ll take away from that weekend was the creation of my own life or design manifesto. So here I am sharing them with you, in no particular order of importance, but simply in the exact order they were created. If you haven’t read the Incomplete Manifesto for Growth before, you should.

#1. Learn to Love. Love to Learn.

For me, the capacity to love lies at the very core of wanting to affect change, wanting solve problems, wanting to create a better future. How bad do you want it? How much do you love your kids? Your wife? Genuine appreciation, respect and love, are the best motivators and will allow you to push way beyond the accepted norm (that doesn’t work).

At the same time, the drive or wanting to know more, understanding that you can never learn enough, and the insatiable need to uncover the right answer is a critical element in true innovation and invention.

Think about it.

#2. Value is what makes your heart sing. So, what do you value?

Design to create value. If it isn’t worth something, if it doesn’t make your heart sing, why bother doing it? Really? If everyone thought like that, do you think the world might be a better place?

It’s also about understanding your values. Would you create something that you didn’t value? Our time is short. Make it count.

Think about it.

#3. Get Outside. Sunlight helps us grow! Thinking out the box, means stepping out the box, literally.

Make sure to change your environment every now and then. Take a walk, change your scene. Your mind will work differently in different spaces. Innovation isn’t going to happen staring at the same screen, in the same chair all day, all night, “You gotta get up, get out, and get something… don’t let the days of your life pass by” ~ Outkast.

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been stuck on a bug for hours, or I couldn’t come up with a decent creative idea, or the words were just not coming together properly. But in the end, all I had to do was get up, leave and go do something else. And when I came back, it was like Eureaka! literally. Dont box yourself in.

Think about it.

#4. Breathe.

Breath is life. Make sure you’re taking the time to breathe through your ideas, your process, your work. By “breathe through” I mean take it in and then let it out again. How does it look? What do you see? Breathing is cathartic. Designing is cathartic. Breathe when you design, it will give your creations life.

Think about it.

#5. Stretch.

Designers are like little kettles…stewing and brewing, getting excited and all at once, bam! out comes that brilliant idea or solution to the problem spewing out, steam and all. But that’s not always the case. More so than often, you’ll stew, and brew, and stew and brew some more, and get all excited, only to cramp up and feel tight – in both your mind and body – because ideas don’t always work out.

So here it is plain and simple. Stretch. Every 15-25 mins! Yeah you heard me. Seriously, stretching feels amazing. Right? So do it in abundance throughout your day. Sitting in your chair hunched over staring at a screen with mouse in hand clickity-clicking for hours on end cannot be good for your health. Bad health almost never equates to good desing. Stretch. Your body will thank you. Your mind will thank you.

Think about it.

#6. Dont just sing in the shower.

Singing is one of the best forms of expression. It’s also a cathartic experience; it’s pure, it’s honest, even if you’re terrible at it. And, expression is so important because it serves as an outlet for creativity; creativity thrives off the ability to express. In that same line of thought, we all benefit from expression.

“Don’t just sing in the shower” is a metaphor that tells you not to be afraid to express, anytime, anywhere. Don’t reserve your best and purest sessions of expression for the shower. Sing anwyhere, anytime. Let it out. Surprise yourself and everyone around you.

Think about it.

#7. Transcribe the voice in your head. Talk to yourself. It’s OK.

A big part of the creative process involves discourse, conversation, dicussion. Hey, we know that communication is a key part in all areas of life. So don’t let the conversation die. If it’s still going on in your head, write it down!

Some of the best answers come to me in the shower when I’m talking to myself. No, it isn’t that weird. See, your sub-conscious is going over all the details milling around in your noggin and processing by way of self-conversation. So don’t discount what you might think are looney moments. Pay attention and write it down!

Think about it.

#8. Circles. Relationships. Push-Pull. Light-Dark. Yin-Yang.

Everything comes full circle. Remember that when you’re designing. A product, or service, or programs’ life cycle is a critical part of successful outcome. The project may start with an idea, but it doesn’t end at the point of sale. What happens afterward?

If we can design for perpetuity, for sustainability, for life, we might be able to affect change much faster and make a larger impact on the problems of the world we all face. Most of the existing systems and processes we have in place are not sustainable – let’s change that. It’s a start.

Think about it.

#9. It’s about You and We baby!

Somehow, somewhere along the lines of our post-post-modern consumeristic era, we became a “Me” society (mostly in the Western Hemisphere). Which is all and good, but a dog-eat-dog free-for-all isn’t gioing to be pretty once economic scarcity catches up with us. Short of one guy building an Ark, we’re all in this together and it makes most sense to consider the ramifications of everything WE do as a collective whole as opposed to tiny parts of a massive global body.

So what does that have to do with design? Everything! We are at an unprecendented point in time where we can design our lives, so we need to be taking every measure we can to design our lives properly as we move forward together.

Think about it.

#10. Word is Bond.

Word. Words are real. That’s why Content is King. Speaketh and know that those words will manifest into something real, something tangible. It all begins with an idea transcribed into words. So make your words count. Word is bond. Check out this post on Saul Williams and the Future of Language.

Think about it.