.: 26 April 2015 :.

5 Reasons why every designer should embrace uncertainty

We naturally start to feel uncomfortable when the future becomes less certain. As a result we look for structure in the form of expectations and predictions. However these expectations never represent the truth, leaving us confused.

Here are 5 reasons why every designer should embrace uncertainty.

1. It is in the nature of the process

Uncertainty in a design process is inevitable. You have to make informed decisions based on limited information. On top of that, the world changes rapidly and so does your information. You can try to understand the process in order to control it but every process is different. The more you think you are in control, the harder uncertainty will strike you. Uncertainty is in the nature of the process, you just have to give in.

2. You will stumble upon the unexpected

Expectations and uncertainty are closely related. Having expectations is a way of dealing with uncertainty. In order to have something to hold onto you imagine a fake reality. Inevitably you will try to steer reality towards your expectations, possibly ignoring positive surprises. Besides that, reality will never unfold as you expect it, leaving you stressed and confused.

In design, the magic happens in the unexpected. If you decide to fully embrace uncertainty, there is fewer need for having expectations. You will find the magic.

3. You will get comfortable with the uncomfortable

Most people perceive uncertainty as uncomfortable. Embracing it, will take you out of your comfort zone. Because you will continuously maneuver outside your comfort zone, this will automatically expand. You will become comfortable with the uncomfortable. This does not just benefit you during your design process, but in life in general.

4. You will learn

The design process is a learning process. You try, learn and continue. If you embrace uncertainty you are more likely to dive headfirst into an unfamiliar situation. Once you figure out what you actually did, you have learned something new.

5. You will take more risks

It is not so much the fear of a negative outcome, but the fear of the unknown that prevents you from taking risks. However, to make a true impact in design, you have to take risks. If you accept the fact you can’t predict the outcome, you are more willing to take risks, regardless of it’s outcome.

Here are some tips on how to embrace uncertainty.

1. Don’t have any expectations

The best way to avoid being ignorant to opportunities and prejudiced, is by having no expectations at all. Dive headfirst into situations without expecting what will come out of it. This does not mean however, you should not have a plan. A plan can help you achieve the reality you dream about.

2. Have confidence that you will manage

Insecurity can lead to avoiding uncertainty. If you become confident that no matter what happens, you will manage yourself, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Unfortunately you cannot know beforehand if you will manage yourself, but then just trust your intuition.

3. You cannot fail

One of the 10 things I learned in 2014 was to consider progress as the final goal. From this perspective, failure does not exist. Every situation leads to progress. This perspective will make you stop worrying about the outcome of what you do, enabling you to embrace uncertainty.

4. Hold onto what you do know

While dealing with uncertainty there are many things beyond your control. To give you that little bit of extra comfort, it can help to make the known explicit. This will act as a solid foundation you can built upon.

Do you have comments or questions on this article?
Please shoot me an email.
Martijn van den Broeck (@MartijnvdBroeck)

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