The importance of crawling / by David Hu

The process of design is not unlike learning to crawl, then to walk, to run, and finally, to jump.

An example:

  • Crawling: you notice or become aware of the existence of design. Good or bad, you find inspiration (and frustration) in people-created objects, messages, and pathways. But most important, you see the energy and joy that design can bring to others.
  • Walking: your interest is piqued by design. You become motivated to pursue it, whatever it may turn out to be, because you see the power you could wield—and the sense of freedom you would have—when you design.
  • Running: you learn and execute the act of design. You call yourself a designer. The more you practice, the better (and faster) you become. You absorb and hone more skills over time.
  • Jumping: at some point in time, maximizing your efficiency and productivity is no longer brings enough satisfaction. In order to continue being a creative person, you "jump" out of your specialty, out of your comfort zone. And you do this because you desperately need a renewed sense of purpose and meaning.

But after you jump, don't run wild. Learn to crawl again.

Because crawling—not running—gives you the time and space to see things as you need to see them; to observe with wisdom but without bias; and to truly understand the significance of what you are about to take on. Don't be afraid to do this. You should do this. If you haven't first "crawled" in this new role, how can you see where your energy and passion need to be directed? If you're leading a team, how can you see where those are being wasted? Don't rush into an "insider" right away; otherwise, how can you bring fresh perspectives?

Right after a jump, you can feel exhilarated and full of confidence. You want to keep your momentum. But channel that momentum into time, for yourself, to understand the situation, to breathe in the new air, and to imagine the thrill of what it'd be like to walk, then run, and then jump again.