Trusting Process

I’m a strong believer in process. In our world, I think we’re often so focused on out pouring ideas, we forget to think about how and why these ideas are generated. The oddest thing about this is that sometimes, it seems like we’re more likely to spend the time thinking about process when it doesn’t really matter. But when we get stressed, all bets are off. We chuck our seemingly meandering path, and try to get straight to the answer, instead of asking ourselves, “Well, what is the question?

Like most things, I find the answer is embodied pretty well in skiing. Here’s the thing: I’m an excellent skier. However, I am a terrible ski racer. Some might not understand the difference, but it’s actually important to think about. When you place me at the top of any chute, cornice, or other technical bit of skiing, my mind begins to mentally tear it apart: I need to turn there, I need to let my skis run straight there, I need my feet to be there, etc. Even when messing it up could be disastrous, as in, landing you face-first in a pile of rocks, I calmly dissect. And then I go in, and I execute. I do it exactly as I planned in my head, carefully paying attention to my markers, the physical cues and things I need to do. But when I come to the start gate in a race, I decompose a bit under the pressure, instead of focusing on executing well, I let my mental process fall apart a little bit: I don’t focus on these same physical cues, the things I need to do. I stress to ski faster, faster, faster. There is nothing you can do to make yourself ski faster. But there is something you can do to let your instincts kick in, to just relax and trust yourself.

Design is an interesting field because it isn’t anything special. It’s no different from economists and systems thinkers and managers… It’s just that, we’re a set of individuals with a shared training in how to approach a problem. Lately, the field has particularly struck out and started examining this method and process. It’s this effort that has created a set of thinkers that can share and understand problems together, in an extremely synchronous, collaborative way. However, being able to share, understand and build on each other’s thinking, we need to be sure that we are framing our thinking in the language of process we’ve developed. And when we start to bring our clients and friends into that process as well, we’ve reached another level of synchronicity that brings more power to the process.

So where does our trust in process go?