I just posted this on social media and I want to share it with you all too. It relates to our work of “activating inspired ideas” – our real purpose at Social Impact Studios. Our Mission is to do that through creative communication. But the core is much deeper than that. It’s about being clear about why we are doing what we are doing at the time. The essential point. It’s about removing barriers. And it’s about channeling collective spirit to achieve what no one person can do alone.
Technology is a wonderful thing and it also shouldn’t ever be a barrier for what humans can do in the moment to help each other. I want to share a story of an experience I just had at U-Haul as a way to remember that for myself and my own business.
Despite best attempts to line everything up ahead of time (booking online, making sure I had my license & credit card), when I showed up to pick up a van, the person behind the counter told me that I needed to upload photos of my license through my phone. I had my license, but I didn’t have my phone (and if I did, I’m not sure that would have worked anyway because it’s on its last legs and pretty old). It was 7am on a Saturday and it was just something I forgot to bring along. (I also intentionally chose to check-in with a person instead of self-check-in-by-phone when I booked online. I like people and I almost always choose the options that involve working with humans instead of technology).
I explained that I couldn’t do that. They suggested that I get someone who might be with me to do it on their phone. I explained that I was alone. I had the physical license, was there a reader or another way they could key in the information? No, they told me. I asked them what people who don’t have technology do in this situation? “They don’t get a vehicle.”
I understand that a lot of personal interaction is going to change in our society due to COVID. I understand that there are probably laws or policies that prevent workers from taking pictures of people’s licenses, etc. too. I’m sure there are other ways to provide access for people who might lack technology, though – like providing the needed technology. My license has a bar code on it. A reader machine option to complement having to upload a photo to a website, maybe? It’s weird and troubling that so many barriers are caused by technology when its potential is to create ease. Not to mention presumptions that everyone is at the same level when it comes to technology and ability to use it.
But really, I am more troubled by the disconnects that happen between what is happening in real life at the human level – when people might have the material or ingenuity to keep something moving forward – and perceptions of barriers that miss the point or stop everything.
This reminds me that I can and should design multiple ways for a goal outcome to be achieved – and ideally supporting dynamic realities of change and difference. It reminds me even more that when people are right in front of each other (or on a Zoom, or on a phone call, or in an e-mail or text exchange) that there is almost always a solution to move something forward that can work for everyone. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I come from the DIY, MacGyver of generations (X), but I think it’s bigger than that.
It’s human-centered design and action. It’s problem-solving. It’s making ideas real. It’s prioritizing in real time.
That takes willingness and a dedication to support. That has nothing to do with technology or protocols and everything to do with being in touch with what’s essential and a belief in the possibility of ease and flow. A belief in peace.