Compassionate Detachment for Design Thinking

“Train yourself to let go of what you fear to loose” – Yoda, Star Wars III

As an artist, or just someone who is excited about an idea, compassionate detachment allows one to explore ideas with an open mind and the see the whole over the parts.

Oftentimes we get caught up in an aspect of an concept that we really like to the point where we will not sacrifice it, or any part of it, no matter what the cost. As an artist, you may fall in love with a part of your painting, sculpture, music, dialogue, choreography, writing etc. so much that you would not remove it or change it… even it that is exactly what you need to do to make the whole piece work. Ask anyone who had to finish a piece of art or edit a film, play or book.

This attachment is the enemy of great design. This is also applicable to brainstorming and a business plan or strategy. It is a natural part of any creative thinking and problem solving exercise.

So how does one get around falling too much in love with an idea or concept and be willing to sacrifice or alter it for the greater whole? Compassionate Detachment, usually associated with Buddhist applications on how we think about others and ourselves, is applicable to how we feel about our ideas. For the greater good of a grand plan, we must not allow ourselves to become too attached with an aspect of an idea and be willing to change or remove it for the greater good to be realized.

The next time to you are developing an idea or grand plan, be conscious of attachment to any one aspect over any other and be willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to take a plan from good to great.