10. Ethos – What makes a designer a designer is at the same time seen as an asset and a liability.

We have used Ethos to describe what makes a designer a designer, an association of values that generically characterize designers, and though some attitudes and behaviors observed in designers might correlate with their ethos, there is no implicit or explicit causation. We have described these as a balance between two sides of the continuum, tensions between two distinct approaches, assuming that designers are capable of embracing and delivering both sides, but when ‘push comes to shove’ designers will typically feel more comfortable in one side of that continuum.

The list of 10 core beliefs we gathered are not meant to be exhaustive, they are also not scientifically plotted, nor resulting from a deep study in designer behavior and attitudes. They are put together as a list of tensions that have come up in many different pieces of data and conversations. What we believe is that there is a moment in the life of a designer when she needs to question herself what she believes and what she wants out of her career, and in that precise moment, defining these tensions and figuring out what they want to do about establishing a better balance between them is crucial, and we identify this as the starting point for a designer. We did not use Ethos as one of the listed insights to interviewees, after we asked them ‘top of mind’ what they believed to be the factor(s) impacting the core question in this research, we shared a number of insights but not Ethos, because we believe that it could become a conversation about biases and assumptions, which we know exist, but that in itself is not the sole answer to the question we have been asking.

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