A HISTORY OF FINDING PURPOSE

Those who seek what they haven’t lost, when finding, they don’t recognize it.

Rodrigo Seoane, Creative, Barcelona

09 Ago 2017

This enigmatic title is an adaptation of one of my favorite quotes, from Mestre Marçal, an old singer, and writer, master of the improvised sambas in the streets back on 60’s and 70’s at Rio de Janeiro. This is one of these expressions that are not written anywhere but are visible everywhere which makes the dynamics of culture through time and scenarios such fascinating topic for me.

A historic global culture shift is underway to harness the power of business to help address society’s greatest challenges and build a more inclusive economy. The Deloitte Millennials Report in 2013 for example, showed that young people believe that the number one purpose of business is to benefit society, and the 2014 report showed that fifty per cent want to work for a business with ethical practices.

And this expectation doesn’t happen only to big corporations, it also applies to SMB’s and freelancers. It means we all, companies and individuals, sooner better than later will need to find our purpose in this new emergent scenario.

After 2 years, of a personal inner trip to my attitudes and dreams, including long months writing down and tracking my thoughts on pieces of paper and lots of patience from my girlfriend listening to my despair state of mind she said something, a few weeks ago that shake it every molecule of my body.

Maybe you should stop saying you’re a web designer.

My first reaction was to deny it, quickly. What the hell. I’m a son of an IT guy which got a book on how to program in Basic for kids, not a BMX when I was 11 years old (Thanks, dad! :P), and grown up using Gopher or a BBS, and was the discovery of HTML and Flash back in 2000 which made my staying in the Naval Engineering School, besides good friendships, worth living. In the other hand, I was always inspired by paintings, photography and comic books, which led me to several drawing and illustration courses transforming any wall in my room, or piece of paper in my hand in a new canvas.

And I say that to contextualize what represented for me to not have the option to define myself as a web designer. Design for the web is my answer about what I do since 2002 when I got my first certificate as a web designer. So yes, I denied her comment but I couldn’t get the thought of my mind. It was a growing internal conflict.

But like always happen, Life was doing her job and happening while I was trying to find out what should I do if I’m not a web designer.

Mussarela way of Life

Last week I went to Calvanico in Italy, for a 5 day gathering of the people involved with the Platform Design Toolkit to brainstorm and create our plan to action as a company/network for the next 6 months, and above all to get to know each other and enjoy some of the best of the local cuisine. Pizza, wine, and Mozzarella di Bufala! \m/

But back to our team, among the 13 people currently spread in Italy, Spain and Germany, we have at least half involved directly with the Ouishare network in our respective places, and we carry lots of shared values, especially the ´Meet People in Real Life´, and the summit was the first occasion to get everybody together in this spectacular rural hub, L’Incantarta, a small villa 30 min up the mountains from Salerno, in the Amalfi Coast.

In this special period where I had the pleasure to connect to some fantastic and diverse like minded people, the summit served as a retreat to inner discovery and brought to our conscious minds which type of activities one can do in order to develop their maximum potential and then organise ourselves and personal objectives with our collective vision for the future.

And what was my surprise when I saw myself doing a completely different activity on my maximum potential that was little related to web design.  

Lego Serious Play in action.

Photograph by Lorem Ipsum

That happened mostly using a new methodology called Lego Serious Play®, which allows your hand to think faster than your brain, and then lets your brain create meaning of the outcome, resulting in a lot of fun but also in a lot of discoveries that required me at least one week to digest the plethora of information unlocked by the exercises.

And after a week, I did an exercise that I had learned recently, to highlight what you do that can reveal your personal purpose. Using an easy graph to set down and evaluate the things I love; The one’s I’m good at; The one’s that can pay me; and of course what the world needs.

And the results were, as I expected this time, not on web design.

It was a hard process to get to this result but was worth it to allow me to really say it.
I thrive to create connections and relationships with amazing individuals and projects and to live a life that fulfills my mind, body, and soul.

I can now say that my purpose is to live in the in between of the real (needs) and digital (solutions/services) worlds and my role is to create and communicate beautiful and engaging stories that enable the best of available technology to spread the impact of SMB’s and NGO’s doing stuff that matters. 🙂

I’m very released after all the effort and energy that I put in the process and grateful especially for all the patience of my family, friends and my beautiful bird who also lives on the edge of innovation in the mobility field and can understand the value of achieving this clarity, I can no longer call myself a Web or UI designer.

It will continue to be a challenge to explain to family and friends what the hell I’m doing for living but I can guarantee that my mind really appreciate the task is complete and now can finally spend its energy to produce more and can step out of the restrictions and confusions that were sabotaging my efforts until the next revision in 5 years. 😉

It does feel a reconnection with something that I never lost. Like the sensation when you met after a long period apart from a good old friend and feels like you were never separated. Which makes a lot of sense with I’m already doing for the last years. Since December 2014 I’d got involved with several people and initiatives around some big challenges of our time, from gender balance to the sharing economy, or getting deeper into citizen sciences while helping to build awareness and a community of champions using the power of sensors and BigData analysis against the noise problem in Barcelona.

My learnings from this intense past period and the excitement to work with these amazing opportunities to shape a better future from the bottom up forced me to revise my value proposition to customers and share some of my learnings around the emerging economy of peers and the rise of the ecosystem centered business age.

For the past 15 years, I’ve being a creative designer developing user-centered digital products and helping good ideas to spread. I believe companies must adapt in order to stay open and competitive. It’s a necessary transition and it’s already happening around you. Citizens not only customers are becoming an intelligent ecosystem and applying their knowledge of your product and services in real time and every now and then can also shift the fate of your brand or community. A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter— and getting smarter faster than most companies.

And this affects the balance of power between peers and organizations. The combination of social and mobile means that any dissatisfaction can be amplified. More Internet, Social Media, Mobile Devices allow empowering more access, more information, more choices, opportunities to give feedback.

People are refusing the simple role of customer and pushing companies to compete to be best for the world, and as a result society will enjoy as the Transparency and Accountability Initiative envision, a more shared and durable prosperity where citizens are informed and empowered; governments are open and responsive; and citizen engagement with government advances the public good. (Sounds utopian but it’s actually happening, and you can check here, or here.)

As we can notice, the complexity to develop solutions is growing fast, and top leading companies already understood the necessity to have designers among strategic roles and apply the design thinking, into the core of the business.

Design thinking, first used to make physical objects, is increasingly being applied to complex, intangible issues, such as how a customer experiences a service, or to create an appropriate platform strategy for your company, matching your vision with the right assets and strategy to communicate with your audience.

Those models—primarily diagrams and sketches—supplement and in some cases replace the spreadsheets, specifications, and other documents that have come to define the traditional organizational environment. They add a fluid dimension to the exploration of complexity, allowing for nonlinear thought when tackling nonlinear problems.

This innovative concept of empowering people’s lives is spreading fast. The expectations are growing as well. The poor and the marginalized are benefiting from this idea. Across the world, attitudes are changing. Old certainties about tightly defined roles for government, civil society and business are dissolving. Social sector organizations are becoming more business like, and business is looking ever more to delivering sustainable value.

Conclusion: You need new tools for businesses to meet the needs of those customers. Do you have an amazing project and are struggling in use technology to keep your business healthy? Get in touch and let’s make it happen together.

I want to help purpose driven companies and impactful projects happening in every corner of the world and come back here to my personal online headquarter and share my experiences and learnings with you.

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