Design, sketchbook, Work

Things I wish I knew in design school

A couple of months ago I was invited to give a talk to the students of JKLU.

Here are my notes as I was thinking of the content for the talk. As usual, I was supervising some mealtime or the other.

Of course not all of this went into the final presentation. The final talk was well received by the students and they asked really great questions. Here are a couple of the slides.

This is what I heard later: “Soo was so good! So informative but presented with an ease of informality. Loved the sketches.” “Soo cut across generations with her storytelling.” I enjoyed it too and thank you for listening.

Books, Design

Empathy, a guide for myself

When I graduated from design school, I didn’t feel equipped to be a designer in the real world. I remember that I even googled for “core skills of a designer” and found that empathy was an important skill to have, so I started to teach myself to be a more empathetic designer.

The hardest skill that I tried to teach myself for a decade but finally this is the book that helped, Dare to Lead by author Brene Brown. She clearly breaks down empathy into skills.
For me though the number 1 skill is to Listen. I’m so uncomfortable with silence I keep talking and forget to listen. How to listen:
1 – Hear what is being said
2 – Absorb and try to understand
3 – Respond not react

Brene Brown says the top empathy skill is Perspective taking.

“Honour people’s perspectives as truth even when they’re different from us.

Brene Brown

Become the learner not the knower. I think this is the biggest breakthrough for me — the shift in mindset from “knowing” to “learning”.

And coming to why empathy is a core skill for designers: It starts with Curiosity, Learning, Empathy, which is used throughout the design process: To understand users better, to create inclusive product experiences, to stay problem-focused, not solution-focused, to grow and learn from feedback, and to be the best coworker and collaborator you can be.
And the true test of empathy is in practising it daily until it becomes second nature. So best foot forward towards being a more empathetic designer!]

Dedicated to Raj and JD.