I have been wondering for a while why I am fascinated with design. Some of it, I’m sure, I picked up while my wife was earning two degrees in communication design, but the fascination didn’t really hit full steam until well after she had finished. What was it then?

My formal exposure to design and design thinking took place through a professional development program called the Day School Collaboration Network (see this article for more on that experience as well as posts here and here). I have to admit it was love at first site. We engaged in some classic training activities to help us understand design thinking and follow up training to help us develop our skills and train others in our schools. It was human-centered and focused on figuring out what the real problem was. There was something magical in moving through the design cycle.

Since then, I have begun to devour anything that I crossed my path related to design and design thinking that crosses my path. I have shown this video about IDEO’s design thinking process to several groups of teachers and colleagues (I would love to know what happened to those shopping carts). I continue to grow my understanding and look for places to integrate into my work it and understand it even better.

This still doesn’t explain why a psychologist and school leader became so heavily interested in design. Listening to Laurie Santo’s TEDTalk opened my eyes to why design had captured my imagination in such an intense way.

It was Camus who once said that, “Man is the only species who refuses to be what he really is.” But the irony is that it might only be in recognizing our limitations that we can really actually overcome them. The hope is that you all will think about your limitations, not necessarily as unovercomable, but to recognize them, accept them and then use the world of design to actually figure them out. That might be the only way that we will really be able to achieve our own human potential and really be the noble species we hope to all be.

Design is how we solve the human condition. And as a psychologist, I am interested in improving the human condition, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised that I’m fascinated by it. Maybe all psychologists should be.