Post 15: The Big Life Fix

If you’re anything like me, you may have been a little emotional over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions on a daily basis and nothing had me clapping and cheering wildly at the T.V. more than a recent episode of ‘The Big Life Fix’ on RTE.

The Big Life Fix is the ultimate feel good programme, in a recent episode an incredible woman, Rosie shared how her love of painting had become more challenging in recent times since her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. The programme centres around a group of Irelands leading designers, engineers, computer programmers and technology experts who work to come up with a solution to their client’s challenge – in this case Rosie.

What I love about the programme is the open creative process. At the start I thought, there is no way they will be able to come up with a workable, practical solution but – spoiler alert – they do!

Using a design thinking style process, they ask lots of questions, try to experience what it must be like for Rosie and come up with their best solution. Their first iteration doesn’t work, they’re disappointed, Rosie was disappointed, I was disappointed – but the group were undeterred. They took their learnings back to their head quarters at TOG and re-iterated again.

To better understand what Rosie is facing each day, the inventors visit the MS ‘Misunderstood Café’ roadshow which is an eyeopener for them. Creating Empathy is such important step in the design thinking process “Empathy is the cornerstone of design – not sympathise, empathise” says designer Trevor Vaughan. It’s vital that they understand what everyday life is like for Rosie. Of course, she has told them, but we learn much better when we experience.

Going on national TV, putting forward a solution – that doesn’t work, is wonderful to see. So often we think that the solution has to be right first time. We are embarrassed if our solutions are clumsy. But the reality is, progress is never linear. Solutions rarely happen first time.  The golden ‘ah-ha’ moments arrive when we keep trying. The breakthrough came in this episode when Trevor reflected back on a previous project he had completed in the medical field. Using a computer screen in front of them to reflect what is happening with their hands.

After several iterations – success. Rosie could hardly believe how well it worked and she ended up with two solutions instead of one! Rosie said “It gives me a sense of purpose – I’m me when I’m painting’” and with that, I wiped a triumphant tear from my eye.


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