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The magic of design

May 1, 2012
by Nick Zubko
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The complexity and expense of design “magic” is nothing new to our Showcase participants and judges

As a writer, I depend upon a range of tools and skills to make a living. Some of those tools are pragmatic and easy to understand: phonics, spelling, vocabulary, sentence structure, typing, research, accuracy, deadlines. I say these are easy to understand because if I goof them up, people can tell.

Other tools and skills are a little more murky and difficult to explain, but I’m working on them—blogging, tweeting, friending, search engine optimization. I once held that my struggles here were “generational” in nature, but then I saw how my colleague, Charlene, knows this stuff cold and runs circles around me.

But of all the tools and skills I depend upon, there are two that I have yet to explain effectively. The first is what an artist might call inspiration, an architect a concept, or a writer his muse. It’s the creative moment when one of them realizes, “Hey, I might have something here,” or “here’s an idea that I can work with.”

The second is the skill—or maybe the magic—that enables the artist, architect, or writer to capture, translate, and share the idea in a way that touches the lives of others. For me, it’s an ability to think/type/express what I’m thinking on paper—very comfortably, conversationally, and sometimes even colorfully. When I’m at that magic place, all those other skills just fall into the background. I’m thinking right onto the page—talking to you, imagining what’s on your mind, trying to touch you with what I’m saying. Of course, some days are better than others; some pieces work better than others.

A few weeks ago, I had the experience of seeing my skills in light of those exhibited by the designers, architects, and judges involved in this year’s Design for Health and Human Services Showcase. And, I realized that although they are in essentially the same business—creating things that touch the lives of others—the tools they use are far more complex, interactive, and symbolic than mine. I share mental constructs with you—facts, ideas, emotions—directly through words, but they not only must identify and describe these constructs, but also, through a long process, gain permission to execute and “evoke” them in preliminary designs and finished structures.

The complexity and expense of all this design “magic” is nothing new to our Showcase participants and judges, of course, but sorting through all of it with them was a revelation for me. I learned that, although Showcase judges chose to honor certain projects with Citations of Merit or Honorable Mentions, all of these projects honor the great care, effort, and concern of the people who moved them from imagination to reality. And, even more, each of these concepts and structures honors the lives and human potential of the caregivers who work in them and the individuals who find treatment and hope within their walls.

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Perhaps there’s no better place than our annual Design Showcase issue to highlight and briefly explain a design change of our own. You’ll note a new BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE logo on our cover and contents page, along with a new tagline. We’re making this change for two reasons.

First, we believe that the new logo clearly demonstrates the complementary relationship that exists between Behavioral Healthcare and our sister publication, Addiction Professional, for the advertisers whose support brings both of these publications to you at no cost.

Second, while Behavioral Healthcare has been proud to be “THE PRACTICAL RESOURCE FOR THE FIELD’S LEADERS,” we felt that our new tagline, “THE BUSINESS OF TREATMENT AND RECOVERY,” better captures the evolution of our audience and our field.

The new tagline evokes the heart of our audience—executives, managers, leaders, and aspiring leaders in non-profit, for-profit, academic, research, and governmental organizations that serve behavioral health. It recognizes that you operate increasingly complex behavioral health treatment businesses and organizations that create, develop, and demand the latest knowledge, processes, and technologies available.

And, it appreciates that all of you serve a vital and heartfelt mission—creating and sustaining the hope of recovery.