Optimism As A Design Principle

The health benefits of optimism are well documented. People with an optimistic outlook have been shown to outlive their pessimistic peers and experience greater health in general, at times by as much as 70%. Despite this, the power of being optimistic is often dismissed as an individual quality or personality trait. We believe, however, that optimism is more than a matter of character, it’s a life force for culture, creativity and business success, overall. As a founder-led agency born of the 2008 recession, optimism has been among our super-powers. The belief that a solution, no matter how inextricable the problem, is possible drives us in the decisions we make as leaders but also as creatives. From how we think about brand, through to visual design and user experiences– when you broach creation with optimism you broach it not with a fixed mentality but an adaptive behavioral state. With optimism, you create with meaning and bring forth forward-looking solutions. In short– you build things with which people want to engage. And this is more than just a nice thought.

An Empirically Proven Fact
Research has actually shown that there is a positive correlation between optimism and romantic relationship longevity that can be attributed to its impact on creative problem solving. People who have confidence that a positive outcome is possible are more likely to find creative ways to bring it to bear. We’ve found the same to hold true for relationships with our teams and partners. When we all embrace the idea of being comfortable with the uncomfortable, we rally our energy toward finding solutions, rather than trying to shake the feeling of discomfort.

Unsurprisingly, it would naturally follow that optimism is a necessary precondition for innovation. And, at a time when it’s easy to find reasons in the world to feel pessimistic, embracing optimism as a design principle allows creatives to show up as agents of positive change – not with blind hope– but with the certainty that we can create for better.

Again, this has been empirically shown to be true. In a study of optimism in students, an optimistic disposition was shown to strongly correlate with “creative-self efficacy” and innovative behavior. Without the belief that a positive outcome is possible, there is no impetus to do anything other than what’s been done before– you’re stuck in a negative flywheel of “has been” which, we believe to be antithetical to creativity and innovation.

Cultivating a culture of optimism is also a critical part to building resilience in our people and, through them, our business. Indeed, optimistic employees are 103% more inspired to give their best effort at work. And the key part of that statistic is not the bit about working harder, it is entirely about inspiration. Whether you’re a strategist, a creative, a technologist or an administrator– being inspired in your work ignites teams, gives velocity to ideas and brings personal fulfillment.


From Philosophy to Application
There’s a lot that business, creativity and the business OF creativity can learn about optimism from the human condition. When we talk about optimism as a design principle, however, we are talking about operationalizing optimism in the work that we do. Specifically, evolving optimism from a belief through to behaviors that can be applied intentionally across the key phases of strategy and design. From discovery through to measurement, an approach that is anchored in optimism and expressed in behaviors that embrace creative problem solving and innovation gives our people and partners permission to defy the status quo and drive for business impact.


Finally, though this philosophy evolved organically and over time at Envoy, it feels especially vital today. Because when we evolve our thinking of optimism from an innate personal characteristic to a practice that can be taught, nurtured and scaled, we don’t just get to better outcomes, we put some good out into the world, too.


Interested in exploring new ways to think about your brand or business? Contact us at engage@weareenvoy.com or follow us on LinkedIn