By: Caroline Surret

To ask someone if they’ve found their purpose is a loaded question, but one that has led me into some of the most beautiful conversations I’ve had in a long time. There is something deeply moving about hearing someone tell the story of how they found what it is that they’re meant to do in this world. Sharing in the joy of someone finding and pursuing their passion has been an unexpected benefit of the Understand phase of the open design process. 

By its nature, the open design research process is deeply human, and in a time when face-to-face connection is limited, I welcome this form of empathetic connection with open arms. I catch myself inserting my own experiences into the research and am being active in trying to separate my experience from those represented in interviews with other students. I think that this will likely become easier as my interviews are shifting towards conversations with faculty and student support systems. Likely this shift in interviewees will aid in another challenge that my team is facing–deciding who our “persona” is. It will be necessary to make a decision about who we’re working to help sooner rather than later, and with so many perspectives shared in the Understand phase, I imagine that this will be a difficult decision.

Nonetheless, I am hopeful that we will design an impactful solution and I have faith that my team will make an informed decision about our “persona” in the coming days. Ultimately, the open design research process has reiterated to me the value of listening before acting, and I am eager to keep listening as we complete the Understand phase of this process.