Technology may aid in our strategy development, implementation of certain tactics for teaching, but it will not provide the grist for improving the social component of learning. Just as Facebook friends are (mostly) extensions of the friendships we create in everyday life without technology, so is learning. Technology is an aid, not the purpose and thus, focusing on the aids as the means for reinvention sidesteps whether we’re educating effectively in the first place and risks us doing what Russell Ackoff calls doing the wrongs righter.
Empathy and compassion involve using your heart. Critical inquiry about empathy means using your brain to see the concept more clearly in terms of its purpose. Having the courage to put these into practice in a professional realm and the optimistic hope that we can do this to make things better for everyone is not just a fantasy, but a possibility. In doing so, we can make these real, important concepts more meaningful in a real sense, not in some marketing, feel-good speak that we have now. By being much more authentic, we’ll also help build the credibility of these methods and ideas beyond design and beyond health.
Bringing design and health promotion closer together has the potential to do women and everyone better by considering the locations — social and physical — in which sex influences health and wellbeing and consciously designing situations that improve it. As we celebrate this International Women’s Day, it is worth considering ways to make sex and gender more conscious in our work and how we might design for both at a foundational level.
Complex problems like chronic disease, health inequity, access to health care, civic engagement, global migration, and food security are ones that require a diverse set of perspectives, abductive (design) thinking, systems perspectives and ways to bring them all together. Design is a way to do that. Health promotion, rather than health care is the focus that will get us from treating problems to developing solutions.
Applying developmental design may get us past the inevitable square-peg-round-hole problem that many evaluators, program planners and policy makers find themselves in as they seek to get greater value from their programs and demand more return on their investments. Evaluation and research is sought as the means to do it and with programs designed for evolution from the start, perhaps we won’t be surprised when the metaphorical ice sheets start to fall apart (as seen above) and see it as a developmental step to a new reality.