Written by DesignThinkers Group Team
The year 2021 has got to be one of the most highly anticipated new years in modern history. For sure, there hasn’t been as much excitement for a new calendar year since the turn of the millennium in 1999. What are we anticipating in 2021? Optimism—in many forms! Our DesignThinkers Group team members share key thoughts.
If years were Star Wars characters, then 2020 was the darkness of Darth Vader and 2021 will be the optimism and hope of Baby Yoda. I see the upcoming year as one of renewal and growth. This year has been incredibly challenging to everyone at the personal and professional level. The economy, our businesses, our society and, most of all each of us individually have been tested. I don’t think 2021 will be a return to pre-COVID times, but it will be a time for us to grow, reconnect with our fellow humans and expand our impact with purpose. I’m incredibly optimistic that the trials of this year will help us all to put things into perspective and make the most of what gifts we possess as innovators and change agents to improve the lives of the people we serve!
This past year offered us many lessons in human behavior, resilience, technological workarounds, and adaptability. More importantly, the constraints 2020 brought pushed us to find creative ways of connecting, learning, and co-creating with others. I look forward to doubling down on creative pursuits in 2021 and leveraging technology to find and connect with more people who want to harness their creativity to collaborate in co-creating a better tomorrow.
2020 brought out a lot of innovation across all different organizations and industries. While this was done out of necessity, I look forward to seeing this innovation continue in 2021. I’m excited to see advances in education, customer service, health and safety, and experiences. As a recent college graduate, this year has been stressful and a lot of the future is unclear. Nonetheless, I think 2021 can be better, and I can’t wait to see what we are capable of.
This year we have seen people—humanity—in a way we have not seen before, through windows into their lives, challenges and compassion. COVID has brought our human need for connection to the frontline. How we show up for each other matters—we impact each other more than we know. In 2021, we need to bring what we learned to our humanity, to reimagine how we can be active participants in societies that work for everyone.
While we hope for a better 2021, we should acknowledge what 2020 has taught us. On a large scale, the COVID pandemic put in sharp relief the inequality in our society: some communities suffered more than others and many lacked the resources to cope with rampant illness and economic crisis. As human-centered designers, we should think more deeply about ways we can contribute to alleviating the disparities that are baked into our current social, economic, commercial, educational, and political systems.
On a more personal scale, I recognized my need for regular human interaction and was thankful that the web and current technological tools allowed me to connect with others—and even make new friends with interesting people from around the world. Technology enabled me to keep working and, while my personal finances suffered from a downturn in engagements, my DTG colleagues and I were able to learn new ways to teach human-centered design and help our clients using online methods. While I look forward to a return to in-person meetings and some semblance of normalcy in 2021, I will try not to forget the pain we witnessed this past year and will also strive to incorporate 2020’s lessons into my future work and personal pursuits.
2020 is definitely a year that will be remembered, not only for all its overwhelming effect but also for its powerful achievement of forcing humanity to stop, go inward and reconnect with ourselves. We re-learned to value and care for the most essential aspects in life that we took for granted: health, family, freedom, safety. I hope this bright side is not forgotten and that 2021 brings hope, joy and inspiration so that we all continue growing and sharing knowledge.
Like a safety blanky, I hold on to the word ‘courage’… almost sticking my thumb in my mouth for a sulk. The year 2020 was really scary with different boogeymen coming out of the closet, but—in spite of it all—we dived in and made some remarkable strides, surviving in a virtual world. Our voices were heard as we unmuted ourselves from one Zoom room to another.
Yes, we need courage as we transition into 2021. We can’t tell what it will be like, but courage will take us through again no matter what. Courage!
As the world continues to face challenges, changes and uncertainty, we look ahead with certainty that we will get through all of this. We are resilient and persistent in our pursuit of a better tomorrow. Collaborating, cooperating and working together—whatever the challenge—we’ll help each other make it through each day by smiling and being kind, considerate and positive.
2020 was a rough year, full of changes, but the world has figured out many things about COVID, the vaccines, and how to live well. 2021 is filled with possibilities of how to build on this base and move ahead. Keep your lights and hopes shining while sharing your dreams with family, friends and colleagues—it will help them get through this with you.