Embrace Uselessness

I attended the mini-conference, Fusion Con in Charlotte this past week, and it was totally great. Having recently relocated temporarily to the Charlotte area, I am pretty eager to find community around my work in UX. Fusion Con is about just that. I expressly attended to see Stacy Mulcahy, a wizard from Microsoft Garage. She was so funny and smart, I wanted to share my notes from her presentation, “Tinkerer’s Toolkit.”

The biggest message I took away was about creating a routine within yourself to create work that’s exciting to you and importantly, fostering a work culture around that same attitude. She called it “motivate through collaboration.”

As I’ve been exploring with my eLearning course, DIY ToyCraft, Mulcahy stressed that the feeling of “play” is obviously fantastic. In my professional experience, exuding a playful attitude too outwardly in the workplace has been frowned upon. A previous coworker’s words come to mind: “we’re not a creative company so why would we do that?” Well,  I have a million reasons why! One, the human brain is an extremely creative and complex organ, an excluding creativity is painful and almost impossible.

For me, “play,” using my creative energy is deeply important to me, and Mulcahy reminded everyone that you have to commit to create a routine around “play” and build play as a muscle.” She described this as asking, what’s funny to me? Using “humour [she’s Canadian!] myself” as a means to explore a code project or some creative activity (ex: tinkering) with this inherent motivation. To that end, the tinkerer must “embrace uselessness” of these tinker-endeavors. Hearing someone like Mulcahy speak this was was a psychic door opening. Her attitude and energy are far too rare. I want to make sure I match in my own workplace. She suggested “take people with you,” energy begets energy, inspire others to be inspired. Lovely.