I watched a very interesting Ted Talk that really got me thinking…. I mean really thinking. Maybe not quite a lightning flash of inspiration but perhaps a 60-watt light bulb moment.  The speaker, Tony Fadell, an amazingly successful designer, was talking about what he calls ‘the first’ secret of design which he says is ‘noticing’. And the trait of noticing is his hallmark as a world class designer and also the hallmark of the company he designs for, Apple.

He’s a designer – I’m not. So why did I have that lightbulb moment? Because I realised as he spoke that ‘noticing’ can allow us to make strides in the design world but could also apply in all areas of our daily lives. I think that it is something we could all try to do. But then Tony goes on to show that ‘noticing’ isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Why not? Habituation.

Habituation is that essential human capability that allows us to automate behaviours and responses when faced with situations and activities that are regularly encountered. Like standing in the supermarket trying to get those flimsy plastics bags to open or driving your car. Habituation is when we move from a starting place of recognising the irritation of opening that bag or the stress of co-ordinating all those elements required to drive safely on the road, to the place where we have become habitualised. We’re on auto-pilot. But Tony is proof that re-learning to notice (it’s a skill we are born with and then lose apparently) can add value for a better ‘customer experience’ of a product or service but also for greater job satisfaction. I could see applications in accounting, aid and development, engineering, policy, human resources, marketing, statistics, education, performing arts, environmental science…actually if you can think of a field where ‘noticing ‘ wouldn’t add value, let me know!  Perhaps you’ll experience a ‘lightbulb moment’ listening to Tony’s Ted Talk.

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