The Ecological Process: Comfort in Uncertainty

Our process is more than just a sequence of steps that we incorporate into our daily routine. The environment and experience of a given place influences our creativity, thus determining how we receive information. In fact, where you are reading this now may even determine how you feel about this article. So much of what designers do each day stems from one thing—our process. Our process dictates the manner in which we understand information and how we deliver it back to others. Our individual process governs our perceptions, actions and outcomes. As designers, we seldom remember the series of actions that were taken along a journey from beginning to end, a blank canvas toward a communicative whole.

One thing we fail to remember about our process is the environments we surround ourselves within and work from. Our physical surroundings help bring about new layers of creativity. Leaving one environment and finding refuge in another may, at first, be seen as escaping our comfort level, however it will help reshape our process by seeing, evaluating and understanding things we have not before. There is power behind ecological comprehension, by allowing your surroundings to help influence your creative process. Elements in these new environments spark inspiration and creativity. If variety is the catalyst to launching new perspectives, why are we so complacent on staying in one place all the time, one process?

By lowering our inhibitions and accepting our surroundings with an open mind will help to initiate this process. In traveling overseas recently, it was great to see and hear new languages, but to also see how others conducted their own outlooks into their daily walk. By being placed in an environment that prompted quick direction deciphering to and from locations, seeing new typefaces, new colors and new weather—it was great to be alienated in that experience. My willingness to adapt increased while my inhibitions decreased.

Breaking out of the ordinary will also allow our environment to play a role in our process. This reigns true to being able to work better at home, in coffee shops, in a park, with others or alone. Define your comfort level and be challenged ecologically by evaluating your location in comparison to your former process and outcomes.

We will experience a shift in routine by not allowing time to dictate our motives. Usually time is the dictator of our process, it shouldn’t be, but in most cases it can become the gatekeeper to success or failure. Time is just a measurement tool that Man has adopted to attach to motivation on whether certain tasks are complete, or not. Don’t let your next project be just another task. Don’t allow time to manage your motivation, thus your outcomes.

There is comfort in uncertainty.
Being in different surroundings will influence the way we see things and reorder our steps for our next creative endeavor. Your challenge: go somewhere new. Maybe not by plane to a foreign land, but by going to a new part of town or taking a new way home after work. So get lost. Get inspired. See things differently.