What if positive change was just around the corner?


A few weeks ago, as I was scrolling my LinkedIn feed, one post struck a chord. It was from Erik Flowers, known for his phenomenal resources on practical service blueprinting. This time he wasn’t talking about service design but  sharing the potential for an alternative use case we could give to ChatGPT.

One that no one really thought of, or at least promoted, which he found while trying to deal with a deeply personal challenge: being able to provide creative and satisfactory answers to the multiple unordinary questions his son, who suffers from neurological disorders, regularly asks him and his wife.


In this case, and the image below is a testament to it, the AI brilliantly responded — giving Erik relief and hope.

Yet not only that, in all this, Erik found something valuable to all of us: he found the potential for ChatGPT to do good in society and change people’s lives for the better and promoted it — standing out from the hundreds of conventional posts we may have all come across about ChatGPT in the last few weeks.


And this, well, sparked my thinking:

Are there other examples like this? How many products have the potential to bring significantly more value to the world than what they were originally designed for? And when they do, why are we often unaware of these great outcomes? Why do we somehow seem to shy away from promoting them?

In my quest to find an answer to it, I started to look around me and immediately found two examples: 3D printers, and shipping containers.



If I now look to my right, I have a 3D printer just next to my desk which my partner uses for architectural projects. 3D printers were originally invented to build rapid prototypes and increase efficiencies in product testing for the manufacturing industry.


Yet they are now used for a much wider range of applications, with healthcare probably being the most brilliant one, where 3D printers help create custom prosthetics and even successfully transplant organs, as this recent story shows us.



When I walk two blocks down from my house, on my left I see a school made from shipping containers. Initially designed to transport goods, shipping containers are now often deployed as schools, shelters, or health clinics.


Projects like The DigiTruck IT Classroom, and the CURA pods are evidence of how much these simple metal boxes can benefit us way beyond their original purpose.

Picture of kindergarten school made of shipping containers


Besides these two, we could probably easily add drones, any type of smart device, and even large events like the football World Cup and marketing commercials — which are rarely used to send bold provocative messages on some of our society’s most entrenched issues like this great tv ad from Pantene does.


And so, as I stand by my laptop surfacing more examples of this kind, the immediate reaction I have is:

Doesn’t this all sound like a waste of potential? What if we were more intentional about everything we create? What if we started to look at design as an incredible opportunity to make positive change happen? Wouldn’t we be better off as a society? Why can’t design be Good Design?

And as much as I don’t have all the answers, my reflections led me to five steps we could consider taking as designers and creatives to indeed become more conscious creators in today’s world:

  • Keep the awareness: as obvious as it may sound, the first step we can take is to decide to regularly remind ourselves that the potential to do good exists in everything we work on.
  • Know the challenges: second, we can expand our level of education on what the biggest social and environmental challenges of our time are and, more practically, consider having a handy reference of them every time we work towards identifying problem-solution fit in our design processes. SDGs cards like these could help with doing just that.

  • Learn from diversity: as a third step, we should definitely aim to use our research activities to engage with a much more diverse group of humans (and non-humans) to greatly increase our likelihood of uncovering that hidden potential to do good that we know can exist everywhere.

  • Chase the use case: fourth, we should probably remind ourselves that products and services are never finished and that it’s exactly through their adoption and the creation of continuous feedback loops with customers that we can learn what’s working, what can be improved, and, eventually, even end up discovering new, unexpected and impactful applications as Erik did for ChatGPT. 
  • Say it out loud: finally, whenever we find the product or service potential to do good in society, let’s engage with our marketing colleagues and let’s use our voice and influence to spread the message so more people become aware and motivated to join the change.

And with this, I am pretty sure there could be a step six, seven, and eight to this list. Yet, instead of worrying about something not being perfect, what reassures me today is the fact that together, we can accomplish more good.


Through honest feedback, creative collaboration, and conscious contribution, we have a unique opportunity for good design not to be left as a somehow random afterthought or lucky byproduct, and we do not need to take big bold scary steps to start to make a difference.


All in all, we can all start by being more like Erik. We can all take action to turn anything into something good and, once we have found that purpose, let other people know. Because once we start spreading Good Design, more good things will happen.


If you enjoyed this brief piece and want to learn more about the importance of intentional design, I highly recommend this fantastic article from Humane by Design.

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