I am making some booklets for the next workshop on Codesign I am doing for the Scottish Government.

The previous workshop was a provocation on the strategic point of Codesign. The new booklet has a reminder of that model on the back.

The next workshop is about the actual workshop and, more particularly, about recognising and transferring power.

This is what the booklet is for.

Value yourself

Many professionals don’t value themselves enough (some overcompensate massively and that can hide the more general problem).

The problem for Codesign is that if the professional staff (from a large organisation or government body) bring their sense of being unvalued within their power structure into the workshop then they can fail to understand how powerful they actually are.

Power is often relative and highly contextual.

The weakness that Junior (even more Senior) staff feel within huge organisations is valid there. However, when they are outside, running workshops or doing research with citizens, then they are powerful.

They are knowledgeable and skilful.

They want to make and share with others. They have good intents.

All of this needs valuing and validating.

Before it can be given away.

The Gift

Power and privilege needs to be known and valued because you need to give it away.

In the booklet, you literally tear it out to give it away.

Empowerment is often argued for the frame of people being without power (obviously) but it also needs to be talked about in terms of people consciously recognising and giving up their own power.

In the context of a Codesign workshop, power is a huge issue (more so than bias) and ignoring it means you just maintain the existing structures.

Power defaults to the people who represent the organisation that was able to fund and enable the workshop. The hierarchy of power and the systems of relationships rapidly coalesce without conscious control.

Discovering more

Giving up the power you have is one way to discover more.

Powerful users, or citizens and their communities, can tell you more about what matters and what may work.

Giving up power enables the strength of humbleness (do read Edgar Schein’s Humble Enquiry).

A blank ending

The booklet ends in a long blank space.

  • A place to doodle.
  • A place to draw maps.
  • A place to plan.

And that’s it. The booklet is a physical metaphor for the idea of recognising and validating your own power, understanding the need to give it up and looking forward to what you will discover with empowered citizens and users.

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX