Responsible parenting is the magical ability to teach and impart self-managing skills to our children in a gradual and masterful way that fits their learning abilities and level of maturity. You will note that my definition does not assume anyone is an expert as there is a degree of immeasurable wiggle-room and ongoing opportunity for improvement. Perhaps that is why they say you become more of a master with grand-parenting.
If grand-parenting gives us room for improvement because we can stand back and look at our “creation” and learn from our mistakes then perhaps we can use this example in the practice of our creative works as well.
So how do we impart self-managing skills to our creations?
A key element that I find missing from many creative processes when it comes to the production phase is the consideration of what it takes to power your production, maintain it, and the plan for its obsolescence or posterity. In other words, the consideration of its full life cycle.
When we consider the full life cycle of a product we are giving it life skills for self-management. We are making a sustainable product.
What is a sustainable product? This definition is like the one for “organic” products. What is truly organic and what is acceptably “organic”. It depends on who is measuring. Our job is to consider every aspect of the product from its reason for being to its design, use, and end of life. Is the product necessary? What purpose will it serve? Does it enrich, communicate, serve? Is it unique, is it an improvement, is it a copy of something else?
Over the last few decades, we are again paying more attention to the aesthetics of a product but we are forgetting about its production and operation. We need to maintain the balance of quality control in all aspect of the creation’s life-cycle. Just as we look for the optimum design, the right raw material, the most effective and efficient production process to deliver maximum operation capacity, we also need to consider how it will be maintained and how it will ride off into the sunset…because if we don’t, then someone else will have to pick up the slack of our lack of planning and incur costs that we ultimately should be accountable for as master creators. Ineffective design fails to consider these elements in the rush to get the product out to market before its time.
One of the key elements today when it comes to sustainability of a functional product is how it will be powered. If this is an after thought then we will be incurring potential retrofitting costs to the owner when finding the most effective, efficient, and environmentally responsible source of energy. Operation, maintenance and planned obsolescence are critical to sustainable design.
So when considering birthing your next purposeful design, be mindful of what will go into it, how it will go into it, how it will operate, how it will be powered, how it will be maintained, how it will seize to exist, and how it will reintegrate as raw material for other creations.
Now if we could only write the ultimate parenting guide with that!