Henry the Labrador dog headshot

Just do it

I remember one time someone important in my field said, you’re really an idea guy aren’t you. I remember smiling and thinking, well yes certainly I like to think and share ideas, so yes I’m an idea person! Then for a while I thought, aw man idea guys are silly, because they just think.Then, I learned that it is through generating ideas that we can find novel solutions to try out. When I first learned about Design Thinking and we started exploring using these ideas in the uLab, I remember feeling like it was such a gift to have a way to go from ideas to testing prototypes, with a structure that led to rapid creation of something in the real world.

My friend and team member Linda has been developing a set of insights, kind of similar to the book I’m currently reading Principles by Ray Dalio. She recently chose one of them to feature in our upcoming AAC by the Sea weekend intensive: DON’T GIVE UP. I hope you can hear directly from her in-person or in an upcoming post. Her words and the visuals she uses in her teaching have been echoing in my mind the past couple days. As an assistant professor who has identified some pretty worthy challenges and is diving into solve them, I have recently had moments where I can see the weight of what we’re doing and the tasks overflowing. Linda’s words speak to me, because as someone with complex communication needs, she has been so persistent in her pursuit of so many aspects of her life. To me, when I hear her insight, “don’t give up”, I think of Nike’s “Just Do It“. What’s nice is that we are building out some toolsets that help us to “just do it” and let working the process and practices do their thing. It is very important to prototype and test. We need to see our ideas clash with the world. It is there we get new insights and ideas.

The balance of giving yourself time to think and reflect and also “just doing it” by creating a minimum viable product for testing purposes is an interesting paradox to explore. It is also very nice to do both of these things with a Labrador Retriever at your feet or by your side, like our uLab lab Henry (pictured above).

Dr. Samuel Sennott, Universal Design Lab Director

Assistant Professor, Portland State University

October 4, 2018