JOHN IS CURRENTLY BASED IN THE SOUTH OF ENGLAND working AS A contractor specialising in DESIGN FACILITATion AND SERVICE DESIGn

Take my hand and count to three

Take my hand and count to three

A few years ago I was working extensively on developing co-design practices, and working with people from a really broad swathe of society to build creative ideas to some local wicked problems. This is a short piece I wrote at the time. Though many of my ideas and beliefs have changed over the intervening years I feel that this still rings true, and is a nice wee piece to share.


One of the main jobs of a designer working in a facilitation setting is to provide a safe zone for uncertainty to sit in.

Designers live in a world of unknowns. Unknowns are exciting, and filled with potential. They’re dangerous and often turn out to be the wrong unknown at the wrong time, but without letting yourself sit in that foggy land of uncertain possibilities you won’t discover whats wrong and what right until too late, you can’t create new, you can’t create different and you can’t discover paths into other futures. This is the space where designers learn to dwell and where, after many years, we learn to be comfortable.

I know that humanity as a whole is naturally creative; As kids we create and invent, imagine and fantasise about about things that are all important in our local worlds. As adults, we’re suppose shape and grow and implement big things, things that affect other people. Or that’s the theory anyway.

As we age we tend to pull away from the exciting lands of adventure and imagination, into a safe little space mistakenly labelled as “responsibility” where everything has it’s place and is accepted and indeed expected by our peers. One of the biggest blockers to new and creative thought is our rejection, as adults, of uncertainty. This becomes the inbuilt resistance to walking into the unknown. The unknown, however needn’t be savage and foreboding. With the right tools, the right thinking and the right companions, it’s the place of new growth, new opportunities and that all important path in to the future. By providing people a framework, we as designers can enable them to walk into uncertainty more surely.

Close your eyes, open your mind, take my hand and let’s step into the fog. Together we can conjure up exciting new beginnings.

Developing momentum with the Scottish Leaders Forum

Developing momentum with the Scottish Leaders Forum