Image credit: @zgc1993
This week’s challenge activity was to transform a piece of media into a new artefact, using one of the techniques discussed in the week’s readings.
As much as it pains me to admit, I failed this challenge.
The existing media that I chose to modify was Eric Clapton’s 1992 acoustic rendition of Layla. A song near to my heart, in that my daughter – Layla-Mae Gracie – is a namesake to it.
I was quick to choose this song as my existing artefact. I regularly use it as a lullaby, and I planned to create something of sentimental value. I was going to modify the song into a tattoo design or printed design to hang in Layla’s nursery.
I made that decision before picking a transformation technique. This is where the challenge attempt derailed. I had created two main roadblocks for myself:
The first, I made it difficult to impartially follow any transformation technique. I tried to use SCAMPER, but I found myself forcing the steps around my planned end product. I should have explored the remediation process freely, and reached a new media organically.
The second, I added an element risk to the activity. Creating a design that I was pleased with was suddenly important. If my end product wasn’t of a high enough standard, I wouldn’t be able to use it as I hoped.
In a sense, I had made the challenge failable through the constraint I had set for myself. As a direct result, I found the challenge to be quite frustrating. After commiting several hours of work with little progress, I decided to abandon the challenge.
Without the sentimental aspect, I could have focused on conjuring creativity. And I would have been satisfied with the end product at any level of quality.
I imagine I would have avoided a heap of frustration as well.
With all this being said, I still took a lot of value from the activity. I was suprised at how following my initial idea had impeded my ability to throw myself into the challenge. By practising the SCAMPER technique with restrictions, I now appreciate how it could be applied as a creativity exercise (Dam & Siang, 2020). I found the method to be fitting as a warm-up for channelling creativity, rather than a means of concept formulation, ideation or problem solving.
Finally, the most valuable takeaway was the experience of failing an exercise on this journey. I’ll surely encounter other exercises of the next two years that don’t go to plan. What matters is that there’s really been no penalty for failing, and the failure was as valuable as (if not even more valuable than) the success would have been.
I’ll remember this moving forward, and throw myself into the deep end as often as possible.
Monday 9th November.
It’s been a short while since I posted the above, and I’d like to revisit something I wrote:
“…I would have avoided a heap of frustration as well.”
The frustration I felt stemmed from the inability to deliver an artefact that I had assigned personal, sentimental value to. But that begs the question, if that value was self-assigned, where was my frustration directed?
Was that frustration at myself for setting an unreasonable objective, on top of the weekly challenge objective? Perhaps the frustration was at the constraints of the weekly challenge, for not affording me the opportunity to create something of deeper value?
It may have been frustration at the SCAMPER method for being an ineffective tool for creating what I had set out to create. If that was the case, then the frustration may have been misdirected; to say that I was annoyed at SCAMPER would be to use it as a scapegoat. It was me that opted to use the method.
Throwing introspection aside, some extraneous factor might have just put me in a bad mood that day.
It’s difficult to say now that so much time has passed. Next time I encounter a frustating situation, I’ll need to take a step back for some affective reflection.
These considerations might suggest that I think frustration is inherently negative. I actually think that frustration in the context of work is a natural response to an ineffective approach or process. Harvey Deutschendorf, 2018, of Fast Company agrees that, “it’s not the situations themselves that make or break us, it’s how we respond to them.”
What draws the line between positive and negative is my response. I could let it impede my ability to work. Worse, create an unhappy environment for myself and my colleagues. Or I could identify the source of frustration, resolve it, and work better than ever.
Best practice in the face of frustration is to be remediative, not reactive.
DAM, R. S. and Siang, T. Y. 2020. ‘Learn How to Use the Best Ideation Methods: SCAMPER’. Interaction Design Foundation. Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/learn-how-to-use-the-best-ideation-methods-scamper [accessed 22/12/2020].
DEUTSCHENDORF, H. 2018. ‘5 Emotionally Intelligent Habits For Handling Work Frustrations’. Fast Company. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/40561640/5-emotionally-intelligent-habits-for-managing-work-frustrations [accessed 22/12/2020].
WALTER, E. 2013. ’30 Powerful Quotes on Failure’. Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ekaterinawalter/2013/12/30/30-powerful-quotes-on-failure/ [accessed 22/12/2020].