1. It’s all about finding out who you are.
In Sikhism we are given a life-long task to find out who we are through meditation and self-realisation (finding your soul), who we are, where we came from and where we are going. In the studio, we are pushed into moments of uncertainty, struggles, happiness, fulfilment and joy. Working across a wide range of industries and a spectrum of challenges we have moments of internal reflection on our view of the world and how we want to fix it, support it or change it. We get an opportunity to evaluate the power we have as designers to change mass behaviour. In moments like these we get a glimpse of internalisation and a profound opportunity to explore ourselves.
2. It’s about removing your ego.
The most effective and efficient design teams are those where the ego is non-existent. You cannot be a team player if you bring your ego to work every day. Sikhism teaches us that the negative energy of ego can switch the mind off from thinking clearly, it can even take over the mind therefore our interactions with our colleagues exist through ego. We hear conversations through ego, we respond through ego and we take fulfilment through ego. As designers, we are not allowed to let this happen as we continuously aim to design from another human’s perspective, empathising with the complexities of their lives while making services accessible and useful.
3. It’s about empowering women.
Women are given the utmost respect in Sikhism, treated with equality and fairness. Over the years women have shown the world time and time again that they are as strong as men; passionate, intelligent, and no less in any facet of life as men. The tenth Guru in Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, gave the control of his entire army to a woman making her Commander and Chief of the Sikh army. She went on to successfully lead the Sikhs into battle time and time again. Sikh women have even fought on the front lines in the battle field and outperformed men. Any disillusionment of women being secondary to men is a fictional mirage painted by society, not the followers of the Sikh faith.
Although hundreds of years later despite the struggles and acceptance of equality, society still struggles with this simple concept. Women are finally moving into senior management roles and inspiring other women who went through social oppression. Creative studios are the perfect place for equality and expression. Every idea has value, every voice is heard, and the stage is for everyone irrespective of gender. As designers and leaders of our practice we need to use the studio as a platform for change and social innovation. Harbouring talent and passion from men and women alike with zero bias. The days of gender hierarchy are over and we can lead the way!
4. It’s not about your team, it’s about ‘teaming’
In any Sikh temple globally, there is an open and free kitchen for anyone from any race, religion, social class or background to have a free meal. The tables and chairs are removed and everyone sits on the floor, side by side. The reason for this is to show respect to the Guru and acknowledge that social class and hierarchy has no place here. A king can be seated next to a beggar and that’s ok! The kitchen is run by volunteers who have probably never met each other before…however the kitchen runs perfectly. The golden template in Amritsar serves over 300,000 meals a day (I can already hear programme managers asking who does the planning). There is very little or sometimes zero planning, people are all working towards one cause; “service” in Sikhism this is called Seva.
Creative studios work best with diversity and multi-disciplinary teams where everyone comes from a different background and disciplines. Some of the highest performing teams I have worked with are those who have little hierarchical structure, instead a thriving energy to fulfil their responsibilities to one another. Making sure they are not putting any burden onto the next person. Pushing towards a shared target and bringing everyone on the journey. The structures of creative teams usually change and modify during long-term projects, the shifts of team members, new clients, new department inputs, input of customers throughout the design process makes the necessity of ‘teaming’ important to success of the product or service. Designers need to be proactive in this mind-set as design is usually the unifying discipline which opens doors and breaks down business silos.
5. It’s about unity
Unity is one of main focuses in Sikhism, it helps us identify how we conduct ourselves in the presence of others regardless of their status, cast, gender and colour. It also gives us perspective which is important in creative studios. It helps us remember that we are all in it together and working towards common goals. So why not help each other up at each stage? Steve Jobs put it nicely ‘if you’re running a race then run alone, if you’re running a marathon then run together’. It is essential in creative studios that we learn to lean on one another not just as colleagues but as friends, breaking down the barriers of work and becoming 3-dimensional influencers.