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Employment in the Spirit of Design Published: Sunday, October 10, 2004 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

An old professor’s advised: Do your job in the spirit of design research. Be willing to accept a mistake and then redesign. There is no failure, only learning. If we take an artist-scientist’s view toward work, there is no failure. An experiment has results and we can learn from it. Since it adds to our understanding and experience we have not lost. We have gained. Working and finding out things is an experiment. As worker and professionals we become sensitive to reality, relationships and hypotheses. We can learn to tell our reckless impulses from genuine intuition, getting a kind of long-range biofeedback for the inner sense of rightness.

If we are going to act as artists and as a scientist we have to acknowledge that we are engage in a profound self and institutional transformation process. This enhanced awareness promotes in all of us the traits of the creative person and, thus, creates the conditions for the innovative institution. This is all about whole seeing and about fresh, childlike perceptions. It is about Playfulness, a sense of flow, of peace and risk-taking.

To the extent that jobs are becoming more complex and sensitive in their nature work, has to do with the ability to focus attention in a relaxed way, integrating reflection and action to assure the quality of the behaviors, the outputs and of the results. More and more work has to do with the ability to deal with many complex ideas at the same time. Seeing what is there, which is not always obvious, logical, expected or conditioned.

The transformed self and the changed institution have new tools, gifts, sensibilities, technologies and knowledge sets. Like artists, they will explore patterns; look for hidden meanings and deploy originality. Every life, every institution has the great potential of standing still beneath their own stars. Like a good scientist, the transformed self and changed institution experiment, speculate, invent and relish the unexpected. Aware of the mark of social and organizational culture on themselves, people and institutions address the inside and outside diversity with curiosity and interest of an anthropologist. The practices of other cultures suggest endless human and learning possibilities.

Understanding people, work and institutional dynamics is about studying the bonds of community, of unity of purposes. It is about accepting and coping with uncertainty as a fact of personal and institutional life, and most of all is about going beyond linear time, and blocked-out space, and also acknowledging nature’s capacity for renewal, change and ever-higher order.

Working in the spirit of design has to do with new ways of structuring tasks, jobs and employment, and about doing so with vision, imagination and drawing alternative futures. This is the work of a poet that it reaches for original metaphorical truths deep in language; it is the work of the sculptor, liberating its own form from the rock of custom, tradition and status quo. With hightened attention and flexibility, work is a playwright with its own repertory company: clown, reverend, athlete, heroine, sage and child.

I am convinced that we live at the edge of the miraculous, recognizing that the end of our exploring will be to arrive at our starting point and to know it for the first time… When people and their institutions get to this point they will have developed new eyes, for finding happiness and wisdom in order to live the good life. Success is never a place to stay, only a momentarily, brief reward. Joy is elsewhere…


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