If engineers and designers would only apply their skills to the spaces and social power dynamics that abound, oh what a world we could all create! Applying the Engineering Design Process to our daily life and group outcomes provides a true opportunity to find solutions that will continue to improve overtime.
Unless it is of the natural world, sprung by mother earth, everything you interact with has been intentionally designed by another human. So it seems logical that we must consider remaking the world and systems if we know they were purposefully designed to harm, hurt and oppress people. The process of designing towards a solution provides both individuals and communities a way of thinking that allows for constant reflection and improvement of what we do.
While I've always found it fun to apply the scientific method [coming up with an explanation/hypothesis, test it and adjust based on what you learn] when arriving at an important question my world was opened wide when I was first introduced to the Engineering Design Process. This method of problem solving isn't so egotistical as to assume a possible answer before seeking one, but centers on finding the best solution to an issue or posed question. And by centering on continuous iteration, the process allows for our answers and solutions to get better and better as we work them through the process.
Are negative adult or youth behaviors persisting or getting worse? Do you wonder why your strategic goals aren’t being reached? How can you determine where the way we work is hurting rather than helping? Has your team come up short of reaching the equity and inclusion goals they set? All of these problems can be worked out when collaboratively addressed as a design issue using the Engineering Design Process.
Over the past 14 years I have worked to create change management systems that address imbalanced power dynamics (such as white body supremacy in space) and create sincere equity, belonging and inclusion. One of the most impactful tools that creates a way for groups to collaborate and improve procedures, processes, systems and programs is via a restorative design process [engineering design process + human centered design process + liberatory design process + restorative process + trauma informed practices].
Whether working with STEM groups, Tech, Corporations, Collegiate programs, K-12, or Government I find that everyone is trying to figure out how and what to create, together. Collaboration can be an evasive and misunderstood concept. We all need a tool and system - different from the monarch-archetype leadership most have experienced - to come to better conclusions than those achieved in many current DEI initiatives.