Response or Reaction?

We are used to expressing actions through immediacy, in order to please others—and most importantly—ourselves. Why? Because technology has made it the norm—get-it-now, convenience, speed and accuracy all play a role in our process. Welcome to Reactionary Design.

What is reactionary design?
Re-ac-tion is defined as a noun, even though it is most associated as a verb. It is a response to a situation or event.

I live it, I am sure you do as well. The day-to-day functions many simply call ‘routines’ in responses to problems. Sure, they are proactive, but are they really solving the problem? To take it one step further, are you being the best at what you do best? One step even further—did you really solve the client’s problem?

During the course of reading this post, you may have checked your email three times, made coffee, said ‘yes’ to two clients and started a new project that is due Friday. Our minds are continually going, just like our devices, constantly checking, crossing things off and moving forward. Or so we think.

While it may seem that we are constantly moving forward, we may just be constantly moving. This continual pace, accompanied with unconscious thinking leading us into a design coma, without a chance to answer the ‘real’ questions.

Is faster better?
Sure. The client gets the work quicker, and you get paid faster. The thinking that working at an increased speed defines your commitment to a project only overshadows the ability to work at a more moderate pace to do what is best for the project and client at hand.

Designing via immediacy shortens our solutions, forcing reactions upon problems rather than finding out what options we ‘do’ have. Working in that frame of mind will cause us to become complacent as thinkers and problem solvers. By constantly feeling the ‘need’ to complete something distracts the mind from allowing to think more broadly about how to design on a higher level.

What’s the solution?
The case varies from creative-to-creative, thus the solution is different for everyone. We have to find a way to challenge ourselves to think differently. Break the mold and awaken from self-influenced impulses. Self-analysis. Question asking. Ask why. Then ask again. The truth comes in the freedom to step away from the screen, and that freedom is a choice—one that is very difficult to make.

Finding time to a) step away along with b) identifying the problem and c) trying new frames of thought processes to use will heighten the level at which these day-to-day functions are challenged and completed. It’s awareness.

Yes, it is difficult to turn away from past behaviors of thinking and reactions, especially if the reactionary pattern helps you earn a living and is working for you. I myself, am not yet to a point where I can safely say I am no longer influenced by immediacy. My process and decision making can be rather impulsive and reactive—rather than 100% proactive.

A challenge for myself and you: Argue the need to define, within yourself, situations where your solutions were reactionary rather than defined. Then find a way to force a response versus a reaction.

What’s your personal story of reactionary design within the day-to-day? What are your solutions?