The Flower Exercise

February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

“A way to clarify what one wants to do.” – Dick Bolles

The Flower Exercise prescribed in Bolles’ “What Color is Your Parachute?” is designed to help those seeking career guidance with an inventorying system of their skills, traits, personality and other elements. A number of us in the studio have been working through the exercise and have found it valuable. The process helped me identify an area in which I have (some) expertise and a big interest in – sustainability. I’ve educated myself on sustainability issues, having attended conferences and seminars in addition to implementing several projects in my home. My interest lies in helping individuals, organizations and even communities benefit from designing and implementing sustainable practices, affecting large systems down to the components of a personal product or individual process. Working through the “flower” exercise allowed me to recognize this alignment of my personal values and interests and my skills that I might not have seen otherwise.

Click here to download my flower.

After working through the exercise and feeling enthused by the results, and hearing positive comments from others that had done it, I decided it would be a good move as a mentor to talk with Sam about the exercise. It was not assigned to her as part of a class but I knew that she had started the exercise to prepare herself for securing a summer internship. When we sat down to talk about it she had not yet finished but was interested in my results. I shared my insight from above and suggested it was a positive process that could help in fine-tuning a resume. Our talk then turned resumes’ and their contents as well as what type of job she was seeking. I had this same concern last year regarding how to craft my resume’ in light of my new educational experience and was able to share my most recent resume’ with Sam and direct her to a section of the “parachute” book that offered useful advice. I also shared my  previous summer’s experience of attending a design education fellowship, making local innovation connections, and reflecting on the first 2 semesters of the MFA program. Samantha hopes to secure an internship in design research or innovation outside of Indianapolis and I think that would be a great experience in a number of ways for her. She best get to work on her flower exercise.

Research Methods Consultant

February 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

I sat down with Sam(antha) and (J.) Brian today to discuss a research project that Sam is working on for a class. A goal of the class is to implement and experience qualitative research methods in a new-to-you context, getting the students out of their comfort zone, which is where most research takes place. Brian and I took the same class last year  (kind of) and were able to offer our advice and experience to her.

I had a meeting and missed Brian’s solo input, but my main point was that she needed to be intentional and purposeful with her methods. There are many options available but to best utilize her short amount of research time (2 weeks for tool development and implementation) she needs to have a clear research goal and idea of how her methods would help her arrive at that point. That said, Brian and I also noted that being focused and purposeful needs a portion of being open to the unexpected. While conducting her research she may come across something unexpected that either changes her thinking or needs to be researched itself. So, be focused and intentional with your qualitative research methods, but be prepared to be flexible and possibly rapidly develop a tool to research an aspect that was hidden before but now has your gut pulling you towards it.

PS – Brian (or anyone else), if you read this, please share your qualitative research advice.

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