🦸🏻 Why we need to talk about power. 🚀


"Power is present in our work. Whether we like it or not."

- Melis Senova

At some point in every Design Character course, someone realises that one of their most important values is Power. The response to this realisation is almost predictable.

First, comes judgement.

Then, comes shame.

Then, comes acceptance.

Then, comes empowerment.

Not every value has this effect. The judgment is always internal, so is the shame. Over time, as they reflect on how this relates to how they practise design, they begin to unpick the socialisation and conditioning we've had around power (post exploitative) and begin to enjoy their nuanced and enabling understanding of the different forms of power we can hold.

This type of power, creeping into our work, is the last thing we want, but I worry that our distaste for the topic also makes us more dangerous. Good intentions are not enough.

Let me explain.

Knowing the type of power you naturally hold as a designer and leader, makes it more likely you will notice when the dynamics are at play.

You will become more discerning about equalising, taking back, or giving to others when you understand and accept, that just by being you, doing what you do, you hold power.

Here's quote that always causes pause:

“Without a deeper understanding of how the identities of and inter-relationships between stakeholders are premised in social structures that uphold structural inequality (such as
norms, roles, rules, assumptions, and beliefs), designers risk reproducing existing inequities by keeping power concentrated in the hands of those who are already privileged—be it more influential stakeholders or the designers themselves. As design becomes more diffuse (Manzini, 2015), so should the power of designers.”
(Goodwill et al (2021) p.45).

The next few newsletters will dive into the different types of power we naturally hold as designers and leaders, and how to make sure you're aware of its implications.

Power is essential, it is necessary to have impact in the world.

Remember the Spiderman quote:

With great power, comes great responsibility.
Uncle Ben

The more you know about yours, the safer you are when you wield it.

You've got this,

PS. Check out the this human website for our upcoming facilitated courses: Design Character and Stories We Tell Ourselves. Both courses focus on the inner work that's required to make the impact you want to have in the world. They're fun, deep, and practical. What are you ready for?

Design Character

Gain the inner clarity you need to be a strong, confident advocate for your work and your career.

Stories We Tell Ourselves

Use the power of story to create an inner narrative that empowers you to impact the world.

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This Human by Melis Senova

Enabling senior design professionals to be more influential within their organisations. ✨ Author of this human and design character, published by BIS Publishers.📚

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