We were thrilled to be joined by award-winning digital designer, Rania Svoronou, Associate Design Director at IBM iX, for the May edition of The Circuit Online. Rania shared key insights into building resilience, and how we can think about design in this new digital world

Weren’t able to attend? Don’t worry, because below we have summarised the top takeaways.

Digital design - what to consider right now:

  • Digital design is essential now that everything is exclusively online
  • How do you as a brand interact with your clients/audience in a digital space?
  • You need to review your entire client experience end-to-end - how does this experience look virtually?
  • Consider how the design adoption - people, places and practices - has changed and explain this to your clients, to make the shift to digital more tangible for them
    • People – designers, strategists, developers
    • Places – physical spaces – studio, etc.
    • Practices – what you do
  • Working independently and remotely, with purely digital tools isn't the norm for most people
    • How can you train staff to make the transition as smooth as possible?
    • For designers and creatives, it’s crucial that you adapt quickly

Consequences of this sudden digital shift:

  • Increased diversity of audiences as services are now accessible globally
  • More active information is being shared with a wider circle
  • More disciplines are now included in the digital sphere
  • Events are more accessible and less exclusive as they're not dependent on audiences being local
  • Services that were previously offered to paid subscribers are now being offered for free, such as memberships, courses and workshops
  • So many creative companies are offering their help, and helping people access their design services
  • Think about the many benefits of transferring and sharing knowledge on a wider scale
  • How will this affect your business in the long run?
  • Virtual interaction is now considered equal to in-person interaction
  • Think about how you can humanise the digital environment, how you can bring the physical experience of interaction to the digital world/space

What this means for the creative sector:

  • Creativity is a driver of economic growth and stability, and people are finally beginning to recognise this because of the vital role it's playing in transforming businesses to suit the digital world
  • For the first time, creativity is in the top three of the World Economic Forum's list of top skills for the next 10 years
  • People are recognising the value of design more and more, and seeing a need to add creativity to their businesses in order to stand out and succeed - we see this with the increase in chief design officer roles in large non-creative companies
  • It's difficult to measure the efficacy of design, as there are no real KPIs, but design appeals to human emotions, so creatives need to highlight this in their pitches

How resilience relates to creativity:

  • Resilience is the ability to handle challenges and bounce back smarter and stronger
  • We develop resilience over time, it's not something we’re born with. Our mental processes need to be broken down and built back up to change the cycle of negative habits.
  • The brain goes through a similar journey when building resilience as it does when building creative skills
  • By nature creatives are very resilient because the skills required of them mentally are the same as the skills needed for resilience: a positive attitude, high level of motivation, the ability to cope with instability, curiosity
  • If you learn to be resilient, you will cope better with challenges and difficulties, so you will be more successful
  • You won’t have all the answers, but resilience gives you the confidence to persevere when in unfamiliar territory
  • It’s not that optimism solves all of life’s problems. It’s that, in times of crisis, it’s the difference between coping and collapsing.
  • Elite athletes train their minds in nine mental skills, and we can all apply these skills to our own lives to build resilience:
    • Basic skills:
      • Choose and maintain a positive attitude
      • Maintain a high level of self-motivation
      • Set high, realistic goals
      • Deal effectively with people
    • Preparatory skills:
      • Use positive self-talk
      • Use positive mental imagery
    • Performance skills:
      • Manage anxiety effectively
      • Manage their emotions effectively
      • Maintain concentration

How to be more productive:

  • A lot of what's happening right now is out of our control. Identify what you can control and work with that.
  • You don’t always have to perform/function at 100% - know your patterns, recognise when you need to be at the top of your game and when you need to rest
  • Be realistic about your abilities
  • Set boundaries that will help you to focus more and increase productivity
  • The work/life balance has become more of a work/life integration, and we risk burnout if we don't allow enough time for ourselves. Think about how you're handling this. Are you happy? Could you be happier? More productive? Less stressed?

How to manage yourself and your thoughts and feelings:

  • It’s a pandemic, not a competition. Don’t pit yourself against others. Instead, focus on building up your resilience. Do what you can for yourself, not just your business, respond to your needs, ask what’s right for you?
  • It’s OK to feel off for a while. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now. No one has experienced anything like this, on this scale, before.
  • It’s ok if it takes time for you to come up with your new rituals and structure
  • As with creativity, some days you feel a bit stuck and the ideas don’t flow. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Figure out how to work through it, and move on.