Pragmatic optimism.

February 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm Leave a comment

On my portfolio website, I state that “My creative process relies on the interplay of idealized goals with realistic limits. Throughout project development, I promote unabridged creative dialogue while keeping implementation and impact in mind.” Another, more succinct, way of saying this is that I am a “pragmatic optimist.”

I am borrowing this phrase directly from the values of the Taproot Foundation, whose website elaborates on Pragmatic Optimism by saying “We believe it takes audacity to try to change the world and effective management to follow through.” Bringing the combination of audacity and effective management to my work is definitely something I strive for regularly.

Along similar lines, I also consider myself to have an incrementalist approach to design instead of a rationalist one. I tend use “available knowledge and means and, from these, gradually introduce the necessary changes in order to achieve the best possible outcome” rather than trying to create the resources that are theoretically needed to build a ideal system (to use the words of Portuguese architect Daniel Carrapa). To me, both approaches necessitate optimism, but rationalism lacks the level of pragmatism that I need for my work to feel fulfilling.

February 19’s daily design idea is be willing and prepared to try again, fail again, and fail better. Thank you (again) for the wise words, Samuel Beckett.


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Taproot’s 8 Proven Models for Community and Business Impact. “Demolition material, photograph, frame.”

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