This morning, my daughter impressed me with her powers of perception and interpretation.
While I drove through the dark to drop her off at the middle school for a 6 am bus departure, she noticed oncoming cars passing us.
“I bet all those cars are parents dropping off band members.”
She inferred that, at that hour on a Saturday, the most reasonable explanation for all those cars returning to our town on a remote road was that they were band kids. I think she was right.
Noticing is a familiar thing for her. I’ll give you another example.
It’s a tradition in our house to have donuts on Saturday mornings. Each week get up early and stop by Oxford Doughnut Shoppe and Dunkin’ Donuts to get everyones’ favorites. If you know Oxford Doughnut, you must show up early, or you won’t get the best donuts. I like chocolate iced donuts—especially the cake ones.
Though I am the first awake in our house, my daughter is always the second up. When she wakes, I am usually at my office desk working on something. The other day, she told me that she always checks for an empty plate on my desk when she walks by my office—to see if I got donuts that morning. My empty plate indicates that when she gets downstairs, a box of donuts will be waiting for her. Even at 14 years old, she’s perceptive and often accurately interprets the meaning behind what she observes.
I’ve learned that this skill is something of a superpower. People who notice small details and respond to these cues are considered thoughtful. In some way, that’s why I believe so much in design research—because design teams who perceive and act upon small details are more likely to create thoughtful products, services, and systems that are thoughtful.
That’s a world I want to live in—a thoughtful one.