By: Jonathan Browning

Coming into Open Design+, it was hard for me to imagine approaching  a problem without a solution-oriented mindset. But now, after an intense and impactful week of truly getting to know our stakeholders, I have no idea how anything would get done without first working in the problem-space of a topic. At this point, I have no clue what solution I probably had in the back of mind during the beginning of the understanding phase, but it certainly wasn’t what my team is working on now – and for that I am grateful. 

The eyebrow moment came quickly for my team, in part because all of us readily embraced the “yes, and” mindset. No idea was shot down, but we realized that many of our ideas by themselves weren’t going to create the 10x change we want to see. However, together they could create something truly impactful. All of us care deeply about Duke and the people that make Duke what it is, and they deserve something beyond incremental change; they deserve our best moonshot thinking. 

I really like how one of our team leaders Aria Chernick put it: “If the solution feels exciting, it means that you’re addressing a need.” For me, this has rung especially true. New ideas that could be incorporated into our concept are constantly coming to me without regard for what I’m doing – eating dinner, brushing my teeth, etc. I’ve learned to dream big, but that’s not to say I’m losing my grip on the reality of what we’re doing. I know that some of the logistical, social, and technical aspects we’ve discussed won’t be easy to accomplish. But I’m okay with that. I’ve spent too much of my life getting bogged down in the technicalities of everything. I’m letting myself shoot high this time.