Month: September 2013

Which action is most socially responsible?

Are you more responsible if you work in a ‘dirty’ business but work harder than your competitors to clean things up? Or is responsibility actually about making the decision to thrive in a less impactful industry in the first place? In other words is social responsibility an absolute or is it most true when it’s comparative? Acknowledgements Photo of “Dilemma” taken by zeeweez, sourced from Flickr

Replacement is not a strategy

I’m always amazed by how one business closes and another one of an almost identical nature springs up in its place. Recently, another of the cafes near home closed. Strange thing is that the café that was there before them, on the same site, also closed. And the one before that. Clearly this is not a good site. It’s right on a corner. There’s no parking. And most of the competition is about a block away, so there’s no clustering effect. The closure itself is sad. The effects for those who had to close were probably huge. But what never fails to amaze me is how business owners believe they have what it takes to beat the odds without tilting the odds at all. There’s this extraordinary belief that, somehow, doing the same thing as the guy that just failed, is the recipe for success. Of course there are a thousand reasons why a business can fail, especially in a sector as unforgiving as hospitality, but if it were me, very big flags of misgiving …

Design strategy: Designing for outcomes

I’ve always loved this quote from Dean Poole. Design, he says, is creating things for clients who “don’t know what they want until they have seen what you’ve done, then they know exactly what they want and it’s not what you did.” So often, companies get design wrong. Designers frequently argue clients get the aesthetic wrong. That may be true, but I think it’s deeper than that. Actually, more than one party can get the function of design wrong. Design actually fails when people haven’t designed in human terms exactly how they want the recipient to act/react. Recently, Seth Godin observed that great design is about getting people to do what you want. “The goal,” he says, “is to create design that takes the user’s long-term needs and desires into account, and helps him focus his attention and goals on accomplishing something worthwhile.” I agree – and that changes the question that every brand owner should ask of their designer. The question is not so much “will they like what they see?” but “what will …