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Embracing Co-Design: Exploring Personality and Habit Transformation


As staunch proponents of the co-design process, we frequently find ourselves navigating the intricacies of diverse perspectives, communication styles, and temperaments to foster consensus within groups. To advance this objective, our recent two-week venture with the DBT Book Club delved into three fundamental questions:
  1. What strategies do we employ to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves?
  2. How can we better comprehend others?
  3. How might this understanding empower us to collaborate more effectively and enhance our design capabilities?

Exploring Personality Assessments

Our journey commenced with an examination of personality assessments and profiles, a realm teeming with options. During the AIGA Design Educators conference, Sara Frisk introduced us to Crystal, an application designed to unravel our natural communication styles, motivations, and behavioral tendencies. Crystal facilitates the creation of personality profiles and encourages sharing among colleagues to facilitate improved collaboration. Our own experiences with Crystal yielded remarkably accurate insights into our self-perception, prompting us to ponder whether more assessments could lead to even greater understanding.

We subsequently explored tools like 16 Personalities, offering concise self-descriptions, and Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Quiz, promising a path to personal improvement. However, as we embarked on this assessment journey, we confronted some fundamental questions:

  • What is the true value of understanding one’s strengths and classifications?
  • Could there be drawbacks to such categorizations?


Balancing Understanding with Avoiding Labels

While these assessments undoubtedly contribute to self-awareness and offer insights into others, we must remain cautious not to pigeonhole individuals. Categorizing someone based solely on their personality type, such as using Meyers-Briggs labels, can oversimplify complex human behavior. Instead, we advocate for a holistic approach, where traits supplement our understanding of individuals alongside their actions, words, and creations.


Is it Fate or Traits?

The debate over whether personality is malleable rages on. While assessments may suggest fixed traits, we firmly reject the notion that individuals cannot evolve. In “Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success,” the authors emphasize that personal change commences with self-reflection, acknowledging who we are, where we aim to be, and our goals. To grow, we must focus on self-reflection, awareness, and cultivating habits. Among the six sources of influence presented in the book, one stands out: “Start loving what you hate.”


Embracing Change

Visit Your Default Future A compelling tactic we discovered involves visualizing the outcomes of tasks we dislike. By pondering the results of completing these tasks, we can find motivation. For example, envisioning a clean kitchen and a stress-free mind can motivate us to tackle the chore of doing the dishes. Rather than accepting limitations imposed by a personality type, we encourage individuals to embrace traits they wish to develop.


Be Your Best Self

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s wisdom, “Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self,” reinforces the importance of understanding and nurturing our true selves. In our pursuit of self-improvement, we believe that infusing everyday life with Design Thinking principles can yield profound results. Stanford engineering professor Bernard Roth contends that design thinking can help cultivate lifelong habits, solve problems, and enhance our lives.

Embracing Life as a Constructive Process

Design is often described as “a constructive and optimistic process of searching for possibilities.” We propose applying the same mindset to our lives. If our aim is to become our best selves, intentional behaviors and actions, guided by the principles of Design Thinking, can facilitate transformative change.



In our relentless quest for improved collaboration, understanding, and self-development, we recognize the significance of co-design. By leveraging the insights gained from personality assessments and adopting a mindset of personal growth through Design Thinking, we can navigate the complexities of human interaction and foster lasting, positive change in our lives.



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