Possible Outcomes

March 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m confused about my own project. I know I’ve done some good design processes but I don’t know what my outcome should be. This is the hard part when you’re not a ‘furniture designer’ or ‘jewellery designer’.

Design processes I’ve used:
Iteration (outfits and secret camera method)
Experiments for research (flash smile/smile attack)
Documentation through video diary, sketchbook, photographs, film
Acting as a character to take idea to extreme
Trying to have high well-being: living the lifestyle I hope to encourage

Potential outcomes:
Secret superhero toolkit: rose tinted sunglasses, tissues for tears, red lipstick for smiles, space for speaker or phone to play a ‘superhero theme tune’:
a song that gears you up to be in a giving sort of mood.
Superhero workshop/guide: what would The Optimist do when… people are carrying stuff too heavy for them alone? Help them carry it within reason – don’t be late for work! …a lost cat poster is on a tree? Broadcast it on the internet. …someone’s shoe is stuck in the escalator? Act fast – get the person with the power to stop the escalator to come and make sure everyone knows there is a trip hazard in the meantime, and comfort the person whose shoe it is. Etc. The point is to be prepared to do something – use common sense but be proactive, don’t say ‘someone should do something about that’ – do it yourself.

I am proactive anyway. Someone has to be doing useful things or nothing will get done. I want to make the world better to live in for everyone. When I see an opportunity to help improve things, particularly in my community (university), I act on it. I act this way even more now that I am aware how much it contributes to my well-being – I’m always on the lookout for it now because I’m used to being in a superhero outfit, opening my eyes to it.

There is a limit though – when it means I have not enough time for myself and to do necessary things. Utter selflessness would not be great for my well-being – I keep time for sleep and enjoying food and spending time with people I love rather than just doing altruistic acts for the community. I spend more time on it than I used to but I draw the line at doing work for people that they could well do themselves.

I’ve been living all this – I thought that the film of the video diary, with different visuals for a great part of the time, would suffice as an outcome. It makes sense because I’m showing my journey through well-being, the extreme I’ve taken it to, and how I’ve reflected on it. Then other people may look at their own well-being in a different way and be inspired to do the same.

Video diary framework through a website/program that people can record their well-being through to optimize it, in the same way I did, through the 5 ways of well-being, and recording their happiness level. Perhaps the computer could then analyze the voice and work out what words are associated with high and low well-being, to eliminate the need for people to go over it themselves.

That idea leaves behind the superhero – the superhero character focuses on Give. I can leave behind talking about well-being so much and focus on Give. Or I could say:
Dressing as the superhero character enables me to give to other people in ways I wouldn’t otherwise be able to get away with. A hug from a superhero is much more acceptable than a hug from a stranger! When focusing on giving to others (Give), I am constantly on the look out for opportunities to give (Take Notice), I often make new connections or strengthen ones socially (Connect), sometimes helping involves carrying objects or running around to act fast (Be Active), and my natural attitude is that everything I do, I can learn from (Keep Learning).

So actually, when focusing on giving, one covers all the ways of well-being. But it does take effort.

So trying to be a superhero of the localized giving sort – not physical superhero fighting, just being giving to an extraordinary level – all the 5 ways of well-being are covered. Just Give, and the rest follows. But it’s got to be as an attitude.

So – how do I design to promote this attitude?

Present the Well-Being Superhero as a mascot for well-being. In the way articulated above, it actually works. A superhero character promotes well-being. This can be done as a poster or comic book or film. The aim is that people will want to be like the superhero character. Superheroes=aspirational.

But I don’t want to do it like that, I don’t think it will work. It will end up cute but dismissible.

What my instinct is to do is a film of my journey, with reasons for my highs and lows. On top of that a framework for others to do the same. The superhero becomes just an extreme method I used to get comfortable with the act of giving.

Laura’s question: how do people get into superhero mode? She suggested putting the white pencil on the lips but that’s not something to do immediately before being giving. There is nothing to do before being giving – act immediately. The point is to be always ready. It doesn’t work if there has to be something done beforehand. It’s what superheroes in films do but it’s not what I have done at all. Always take notice: it’s an attitude I’ve been keeping for months now and I don’t have to put on lipstick now to do that. I had to wear the cape for a while but from the beginning of the day. To transfer this, I can make badges for people to always wear that reminds them to be superheroes – or else superhero pants so they know that underneath they are superheroes.

I don’t want to propose that people listen to a theme song just before they do something giving for someone – the moment passes and is lost, it has to be immediate.

But like Laura said, a poster will not work because a poster can be ignored. It’s something that people need to take to heart to decide that they’re going to do. That’s why a film can work because it’s anecdotal evidence that all this can work. A really good film can be taken to heart. Having rose tinted sunglasses with you all the time, with or without the rest of the toolkit, can remind you to have a positive attitude even if you never wear them.

Problematically I’m not very interested in making sunglasses or putting a logo on everything. I’m interested in film making and service design.

The service can be superhero training – a workshop.

Going to have a rest now and then I’m going to get a clip of the Flash Smile film.


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